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Living among the trees

May 22nd, 2004 · 2 Comments

Via Scott at Metafilter, I enjoyed reading this story about a father and daughter camping in the forest for four years near Portland, OR:

A man and his 12-year-old daughter spent the last four years living in a remote hillside in Portland’s Forest Park, police said.
The pair was discovered in a dense, wooded area by an Australian cross-country runner and his wife.


The man and girl told police they had lived in the park for four years. The pair appeared clean, well-fed and healthy, Barkley said, and the girl was well-spoken beyond her years.

The man, who identified himself as Frank, told police he was a 53-year-old Marine Corps veteran and college graduate who served in Vietnam.

He came to Oregon with his daughter, Ruth, from Tacoma with no job and virtually no money. Frank told police that the girl’s mother was institutionalized in New Hampshire, and the two now lived on a $400-a-month disability check.

Rather than live on the streets and expose Ruth to alcohol and drugs, Frank said, they hiked deep into Forest Park and built a lean-to.

Even more amazing

A pediatrician found the girl free of any illness, any signs of physical or sexual abuse – and no cavities. A criminal background check came up empty, according to police reports.

Even though the child and father lived for such a long time disconnected from society, the girl had been home schooled and was in good physical shape.

In fact, the girl received a very good education from her father while living among the trees. Officials said the girl, who would be normally in 7th grade, is at a 12th grade equivalency.

I liked how close the father and daughter seemed to be, how happy and healthy. “What was so clear was that their living conditions were unacceptable, but their relationship was a real deep love and caring for each other.”
A homeschooling story, with some number of twists, but still it appears to be a great story of family, of a father who tried to make the best choice he could, and of a daughter who benefitted greatly from his wisdom.

Tags: family

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Katherine // May 22, 2004 at 8:43 am

    That is such an incredible article! I clicked on the link and read the whole thing and it makes me smile broadly!

    By the way, I am also very happy that I can now write comments without fear of bumping one I haven’t read yet off the front page…David set me up with an aggregator for the first time and I won’t miss any comments from now on 🙂 Thanks for setting that up on your end, Julie!

  • 2 Julie // May 22, 2004 at 10:41 pm

    Yes, a great story! Glad you enjoyed it.

    And I’m glad you are enjoying the comment feed 🙂 I figured I should reply and put something else in here for you to read…