Remembering “Honor Camp” experiences

Reading with interest the Mike Drovdahl, memories of a former fire lookout, I had to laugh about my experience with the Honor Camp (DNR), superintendent, Chuck Dedrick

Editor, Forks Forum

Reading with interest the Mike Drovdahl, memories of a former fire lookout, I had to laugh about my experience with the Honor Camp (DNR), superintendent, Chuck Dedrick. There may be a few old-timers left familiar with Chuck and Fran, his wife when she worked at the Forks PUD office.

In the late 1960s, I met Chuck, who was the superintendent of the Clallam Bay Honor Camp, where I was transferred from Washington Correction Center as a corrections officer. He was all business and had little if any time for fun and games by inmates or staff.

During the next few years the Clallam Bay Honor Camp began closing and in August of 1968, the Clearwater Camp was officially opened. I was promoted to sergeant with a long list of other duties as required.

Most honor camps were closed starting in 1973 including Clearwater. I transferred to Larch Mountain to a newly created position of Records Officer. Larch was opened for the purpose of snag falling and reforestation that resulted from the 1920s Yacolt forest fire.

Original construction was during the 1950s. Reconstruction was completed by the middle of 1976 and plans for reopening Clearwater were in place. When I returned as a Lieutenant, planning for the needs of the facility with the superintendent, my first encounter was with DNR superintendent Dedrick. During the next several hours we toured the shuttered facility with DNR staff from Olympia, as we walked through the barracks I noticed muddy boot prints on the ceiling!

I asked Chuck what that was about. He said, “That’s mild compared to what those fire crews did.” Later when we were alone in his office he elaborated on the conduct of the “youngsters.” He also added he was most happy that DOC and inmates were coming back.

He vividly described what all the summer fire crews had been up to, finishing with “whatever one thought up in devilment, there was always another trying to better him!” Being a dorm mother was not what he had hired on to do and he could never find anything in his job description that explained those duties in addition to his duties and responsibilities as a forester!

Regarding the fire tower, I went to the Octopus Mountain tower site with DNR employees who supplied the tower person with food and water, sodas, radios, etc. DOC needs were for elevated radio antennas for staff and vehicles.

My surprise was the beautiful young woman manning the tower. I heard she later married a Forks resident’s brother and lived on the Lower Hoh. When the tower was removed, I don’t know, but I gathered it may have been the inmates that could have had something to do with it when taking it down and caused it to burn up. All things are possible, however, chainsaws and dry wood chips have caused many forest fires as have careless smokers.

As a note: Those of us who have lived here always are aware of the danger of forest fires, so please be careful, especially during the coming holiday.

Phil Reed


Forks Chamber of Commerce

The Forks Chamber of Commerce, 1411 S. Forks Ave., is a voice and advocate for the business community and other organizations of the West End of the Olympic Peninsula. In addition to maintaining the website, its activities include operating the year-round Visitor Information Center in Forks; creating many guides for lodging, shopping, fishing, activities and dining; and sponsoring the free Logging and Mill Tours, that run May through September. The chamber partners with the City of Forks in many endeavors and stand by the laws of the City of Forks, as well as the State of Washington.

Summer hours: Memorial Day-Sept. 30 are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. MondaySaturday11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday; winter hours: Oct. 1-Memorial Day are 10 a.m.-4 p.m.MondaySaturday11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

The chamber holds weekly meetings on Wednesdays at noon at JT’s Sweet Stuffs’ meeting room, 80 N. Forks Ave., with programs and speakers of interest to the community. Everyone is welcome and you don’t have to be a chamber member to attend.

Lissy Andros is the executive director of the Forks Chamber of Commerce. Reach the chamber and visitors center at 360-374-2531.

2014 Chamber Board of Directors are Bill Peach, Debbie Scannell, Don Grafstrom, Sharon Millett, Walter Kochansky, Bruce Paul, Diana Reaume, Ellen Matheny, Pura Carlson, Mayor Bryon Monohon, and Cathy Smith.

2015 Chamber Board of Directors are Don Grafstrom, Bill Peach, Bruce Paul, Sharon Millett, Diana Reaume, Christi Baron, Linda Offutt, David Selman, Cathy Smith, Ginger Simons.