Chief Park Ranger Forest Sanford Townsley

Chief Park Ranger Forest Sanford Townsley

United States Department of the Interior - National Park Service, U.S. Government

End of Watch Wednesday, August 11, 1943

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Forest Sanford Townsley

Chief Park Ranger Forest Townsley suffered a fatal heart attack while on a backcountry patrol in Yosemite National Park.

He was traveling by horse from Tuolumne Meadows to Devil's Postpile National Monument when he received word that other rangers had received clues regarding a lost park visitor. Chief Ranger Townsley changed his plans and began toward Merced Lake via Vogelsang. At the next telephone station, he received word that the information was not reliable but that the ranger to whom he was speaking was going to join him to continue his patrol.

Chief Ranger Townsley stopped at Fletcher Lake to await the other ranger to continue the backcountry patrol. While there, he suffered a fatal heart attack.

Chief Park Ranger Townsley had served with the National Park Service for 40 years. He was survived by his wife and five children.


  • Age 60
  • Tour 40 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Heart attack
  • Location California


Most Recent Reflection

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So grateful for the incredible heritage that Forest created for my family. His son, my dad, John Townsley, carried on the legacy, including being superintendent of both Mt Rainier and Yellowstone National Parks, giving his family incredible experiences. You died too young, but your son carried on well and left a great legacy!

Forest Townsley

December 31, 2023

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