David W. Cayton, a grand nephew of James Grimshaw Cayton, was born in 1936 in Salt Lake City, Utah. His father James O. Cayton and older brother James R. Cayton are both named after Ranger Jim. David recalls that Jim and Birdie were household words in his home as he was growing up, noting that the couple “kind of adopted us four kids as their grandkids”.

At age sixteen, David worked on a ranch set in one of the most beautifully forested areas of our nation. There he connected with the outdoors and began to appreciate the role of Great Uncle Jim as a pioneer forest ranger during the emergence of the Forest Service. Two events led to a turning point in David’s life: Learning about Birdie’s trunks full of family and Forest Service records and memorabilia; and finding the Cayton Ranger Station (circa 1910) still standing. “I promised myself to make this book and the restoration and use of the ranger station a part of my legacy”, David recalls.

David began this project as a simple, spiral bound set of copied documents from Birdie’s trunk, for distribution among his immediate family. Forest Service staff encouraged him to expand the content and make copies available for sale to the general public. After seeing some of Ms. Metzler’s work for the Forest Service, he contracted with her to do the professional research, graphic design and writing in collaboration with his own vision and financial support.

David has four adult children and fourteen grandchildren. He is retired and lives in Salinas, California. He has traveled to almost all the forest recreation areas and historic sites in the western United States, starting in the 1950s with a Kelty backpack and more recently on his ATV. Western U.S. History was his favorite subject in school and has remained so, with photography a second interest. He worked and traveled extensively in the United States and to many parts of the world as an agricultural engineer.

Caroline Metzler was born to a ranching family in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her ancestors were Wyoming ranchers with ties to Old West gangs—the kind of people that Jim Cayton had to “win over” to the conservation idea.

She holds a master’s degree in Oriental Medicine from Southwest Acupuncture College, and an associate’s degree in graphic design from Colorado Mountain College. She grew up in a family that was constantly correcting her grammar, and loved to diagram sentences as a child.

Caroline was introduced to David Cayton through her design work for the Forest Service. She had little native interest in history before being asked to design (and then research and write) this book. Jim and Birdie’s story captivated her as she became familiar with them through the photos and documents in Birdie’s trunks.

Having exited from an eighteen year career in the healing arts, Caroline is now happily creating through her business, Coyote Creative Graphic Design. She lives (and gardens) with her husband in New Castle, Colorado, near the Rifle District of the White River National Forest, Jim’s original stomping grounds. She loves to hike, do yoga, sketch, and cross-country ski whenever she can.

Buy the Book