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Boy scouts caught in fatal lightning strike 100 years ago honored in the Highland Mountains

Posted at 5:26 PM, Aug 24, 2022

BUTTE — It was 100 years ago on Devil’s Peak in the Highland Mountains where a group of Boy Scouts from Butte were struck by lightning. The events were tragic and yet heroic, and a group of people wants to make sure they’re never forgotten.

Dave Stratton read the names of the teenage scouts who were on that fateful hike on Aug. 22, 1922 during a memorial on the anniversary.

“And the gentleman that lost his life up here 100 years ago by a bolt of lightning: First Class Scout Henry Heidemann,” said Stratton while being overcome with emotion.

The weight of that tragic event moved him.

“You just, you can feel it. I’ve been on those mountains with lightning … you can tell what they went through,” he said.

Tina West is the granddaughter of Carl Shiner, who was one of the scouts seriously injured in that incident when he was just 14 years old.

“He was struck in the abdomen and it went out through the back and they were all knocked unconscious,” said West.

Carl Shiner survived along with two other boys and would live to 88 years old. Tina West said her grandfather never talked about that day, but it seemed to haunt him throughout his life.

“What do know is that when we were kids growing up and it would thunder and lightning after dinner, he would go to bed. It would be 5, 6 o’clock at night and he would be in bed, so it devastated him,” said West.

During the ceremony, officials with Butte, the Boy Scouts, and the U.S. Forest Service honored the bravery of the scouts who managed to treat the wounded and hike down from the peak in the dark.

Some current scouts camped overnight near the spot of the tragedy to help set up for the ceremony. They, too, had to endure an evening of thunder and lightning. Were they scared?

“Not really. A bit, I thought there might be bears out because I thought I left some food out, but not really, I wasn’t really scared of the thunder,” said Boy Scout Aden Gilchrist.

They hope to have a permanent monument installed near the Highland Lookout Tower before the end of the year. People can make a donation to the Highland Boy Scout Memorial at Butte Community Credit Union.