A Short History of the Park Ranger Hat's "Lemon Squeezer" Pinch

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Although it may seem to be just for show, that distinctive pinch in the crown of the national park ranger's iconic hat actually originated as a practical solution to a significant problem.

The broad-brimmed, high-crowned hat that national park rangers wear with their class A uniform was first specified as National Park Service apparel in the agency's 1920 uniform regulations. Since this was only four years after Congress created the National Park Service, the hat that rangers call the "flat hat" is one of the agency's longest-standing traditions. It is instantly recognized, though many people will tell you that it's a "Smokey Bear hat" and some will say it's a Stetson.

The Montana Peak

The crown of the ranger hat is not just high, it is also pinched into four symmetrical quadrants. The pinch, which is formally known as a Montana Peak (aka Montana Crease), has a shape that prompts some people to call the hat a "lemon squeezer."

Whatever you may call it, the distinctive pinch in the ranger hat's crown was not a National Park Service innovation. This design characteristic actually came into use over a century ago after U.S. Army troopers learned that adding a symmetrical quadrant pinch to the crown of a standard issue campaign hat rendered it more useful....

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