The natives of Australia take dry logs, 6 ft. or more in length, and laying them down 3 ft. or 4 ft. apart, set them on fire in several places. Letting shorter logs meet them from the outside, and placing good-sized pebbles around them, they then stretch themselves on the ground and sleep between the two lines of fire, and when the wood is consumed the stones continue for some time to radiate the heat they have previously absorbed. Many tribes of American Indians have their own special fashion of fire building, so that a deserted camp fire will not infrequently reveal the identity of the tribe by which it was made.

Slow Fires

The camper's old method of making a slow fire was also used by housekeepers for their open fire-places, and consisted of placing three logs with their glowing ends together.

As the ends of the logs burned off the logs were pushed forward, this being continued until the logs were entirely consumed. Three good logs thus arranged will burn all day or all night, but someone must occasionally push them so that their ends come together, when they send their heat from one to the other, backwards and forwards, and thus keep the embers hot (Fig. 53). But who wants to sit up all night watching a fire? I prefer to use the modern method and sleep all night.

Sharpen the ends of two strong heavy stakes each about 5 ft. in length, cut a notch in the rear of each near the top, for the support or back to key into, drive the stakes into the ground about 6 ft. apart. Place three logs one on the other, making a log wall for the back of your fire-place. Next take two shorter logs and use them for fire-dogs, and on these lay another log and the arrangement will be complete. A fire of this kind will burn during the longest night and if skillfully made will cause little trouble. The fire is fed by placing fuel between the front log and the fire-back.

Bonfires And Council Fires

Signal Fires

When the greatest elevations of land are selected the smoke signals may be seen at a distance of from twenty to fifty miles. Signal fires are usually made with dry leaves, grass and weeds or "wiry willows," balsam boughs, pine and cedar boughs, because such material produces great volumes of smoke and may be seen at a long distance. The Apaches have a simple code which might well be adopted by all outdoor people. According to J. W. Powell, Director of U. S. Bureau of Ethnology, the Indians use but three kinds of signals, each of which consists of columns of smoke.


Three or more smoke columns reads impending danger from flood, fire or foe. This signal may be communicated from one camp to another, so as to alarm a large section of the country in remarkably quick time. The greater the haste desired the greater the number of smokes used. These fires are often so hastily made that they may resemble puffs of smoke caused by throwing heaps of grass and leaves upon the embers again and again.


"This signal is generally made by producing one continuous column and signifies attention for several purposes, viz., when a band had become tired of one locality, or the grass may have been consumed by the ponies, or some other cause necessitated removal, or should an enemy be reported which would require further watching before a decision as to future action would be made. The intention or knowledge of anything unusual would be communicated to neighboring bands by causing one column of smoke to ascend."

Establishment Of A Camp, Quiet, Safety

"When a removal of camp has been made, after the signal for Attention has been given, and the party have selected a place where they propose to remain until there may be a necessity or desire for their removal, two columns of smoke are made, to inform their friends that they propose to remain at that place. Two columns are also made at other times during a long continued residence, to inform the neighboring bands that a camp still exists, and that all is favorable and quiet."

Therefore, Three or more smokes in daylight, or Three or more flames at night, is a signal of alarm, One smoke a signal for attention, Two smokes tells us that all is well, peaceful and happy.

Smoke Signals

The usual way of signalling with smoke is to make a smudge fire of browse or grass and use a blanket as an extinguisher. By covering the fire with the blanket and suddenly removing it, a large globular puff of smoke is made to suddenly appear, and is certain to attract the attention of anyone who happens to be looking toward the site of the fire.