78 Years of Smokey Bear

“Smokey Bear is one of the most recognized icons in the world and continues to remind people of the importance of fire safety.”

Did you know Smokey Bear was a real bear cub? While the Smokey Bear campaign began in 1944, a black bear cub orphaned by a New Mexico wildfire in 1950 was the first namesake and live representation of Smokey Bear.

From Orphaned Cub to National Icon

In the spring of 1950, a wildfire broke out in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico. A lone bear cub had been spotted early on, but firefighter crews hoped the cub would find its mother and safely escape the blaze. As the wildfire raged, responding firefighters narrowly survived the flames. The fire continued to spread and one of the crew members noticed the bear cub alone and frightened in a nearby tree. The cub was badly burned and one of the crew members brought the cub home to live with him and his family. Shortly after, a ranger transported the cub to Santa Fe for veterinary care. 

Eventually, the resilient cub went to live at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. and was called “Smokey Bear.” Over the next seven decades, the story of young, orphaned Smokey Bear would continue to inspire the Forest Service’s longest wildfire prevention campaign.

Partnership with the US Forest Service

Landmark proudly contributes to Smokey’s legacy through a partnership with the Forest Service. We resonate with Smokey’s mission to prevent wildfires and we love stories that stand the test of time. Depictions of Smokey Bear are often nostalgic pieces of Americana. But more importantly, Smokey’s story inspires personal responsibility and an appreciation for our beautiful forests and wildlife.

You can be a part of Smokey’s timeless story by sporting your own Smokey apparel. For every Smokey Bear product sold, we’re pleased to donate 10% to the US Forest Service for wildfire prevention education. We love art that educates and inspires so we’re proud to share Smokey’s message with another generation of adventurers.

A Big Day for Smokey Bear

Since his first birthday on August 9th, 1944, Smokey Bear has become one of the most recognized icons in the world. With his broad smile, brown hat, and important message, Smokey continues to remind us of the importance of fire safety. We can’t really imagine our forests without our favorite cub. Happy 78th birthday, Smokey Bear!

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