Hans Kleiber

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007

Hans Kleiber was born August  24, 1887 in Jaegersdorf, Austria, on the eastern slope of the Sudeten Mountain Range. His parents love for nature inspired Hans to learn about, love and appreciate the beauty of the outdoors. He was an avid reader and was intrigued by the American Frontier. At the age of 14, Hans quit school to work to help his family through a financial crisis. In 1900 he and his family immigrated to the US where his father, a textile designer, found work in Massachusetts.

He was quickly disillusioned with the north east as it was not the "America" he dreamed of experiencing.    Being fluent in German as well as French, Hans quickly learned the English language and immersed himself into read­ing outdoor magazines featuring the forests and mountains of the west. In  addition, he had short- lived, informal art training by way of a brief apprenticeship and time spent with friends in New Jersey, where he learned the principles of art and the use of paint. When he learned of the government's plan to establish a Forest Service, he made a personal decision to eventually become a part of this national project.

In 1906 , Kleiber moved west and joined the McShane Timber company, based in the Bighorn Mountains, as he was too young for a Civil Service position. In 1908, he became a Forest Guard and finally, after the long task off finalizing his American citizenship, he was appointed  Forest Ranger in 1911. In 1920, he was designated as a Ranger at Large.

Kleiber laid out many of the Bighorn Mountain roads and trails still used today, as well as exploring and map­ping unknown areas in the Big Horn, Washakie, Wind  River and Bridger National Forests. He became an expert firefighter, and was a trusted Forest Service Firefighter crew boss in Minnesota, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Kleiber built and rebuilt telephone lines connecting Bighorn  Mountain Ranger stations to aid in fire control.

Hans resigned from the US Forest Service in 1923 to pursue art full- time. His love of the Wyoming outdoors and his time spent  there as a Ranger showed through in his poetry, stories and artwork. He was soon "discovered" by an Eaton Dude Ranch guest, who arranged for his first big show in Boston. Largely self- taught, Kleiber became a nationally known etcher. His work was shown around the US, including the National Museum in Washington, DC in 1944. Etchings that once sold for $10 are now worth hundreds. He also published  a book of poetry called Songs of Wyoming and a book of fanciful forest animal short stories called Daydreams and Fantasies.

Hans Kleiber died at his home in Dayton , Wyoming on December 8, 196 7. Kleiber's family donated his rustic 1920's log studio, along  with art, furnishings, photos and art supplies to his "hometown" of Dayton at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains. His love for the outdoors and wildlife lives on in the art he left behind.  It continues to inspire  people  to find  the places  he stood and  travel the trails he blazed as an early outdoor pioneer. Preservation and enjoyment of our mountains were his life's work, and his artistic exploration grew from this need to express his love for the outdoors.

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