Celebrating Echoes of Axes

  • Tue Oct 6th, 2015 7:25pm
  • Life

The cover of the latest edition of the 'Logger Memorial Book.'

In the early days of the Forks Forum, the 1930s, it was not unusual to see at least one and sometimes two stories on the front page telling of a logger’s death. Many were single men, immigrants that lived in the logging camps, sometimes their next of kin was unknown. As things changed from camps to more of a family life for the loggers, the stories told included widows and children left behind.

The Forks Loggers Memorial was dedicated on Memorial Day, May 25, 1992, in front of a crowd of approximately 500 people. The memorial contains names of about 600 deceased timber workers from the Olympic Peninsula and is located next to the Forks Visitor Center across from the airport.

This memorial had its beginning in the fall of 1987 when Wayne Queen died in a logging accident. Steve Poppe and Rick Butner had the idea to establish a Loggers Memorial. Funds were raised, but the project was set aside because the funds raised were not adequate to pay for the project they wanted to do.

In February 1991, a new committee was formed and work began to fall into place at last. Jan Westerlund was the chairman and Evelyn Bryson, June Cassell, Martha Paul and Lowell McQuoid were on the committee. As years went by, Evelyn Bryson was the chairman, with June Cassell and Martha Paul assisting. Both Evelyn’s and June’s husbands were loggers during part of their lives.

Floyd Bryson and Ed Cassell helped Evelyn and June maintain the gardens. Dennis and Margaret Chastain carved out a 12-foot-tall statue of western red cedar for the memorial.

The Loggers Memorial was built entirely with volunteer money, labor and materials.

In 1994, the first Logger Memorial book was released. It not only contained names of people that died working in the timber industry but also those who had passed on that had dedicated their lives to working in the woods.

Evelyn Bryson and June Cassell retired in 2010 after 20 years of service to the committee. Evelyn and Floyd Bryson have both since died and just recently the community lost June Cassell as well.

Since 1994, sadly more fine people have lost their lives working in the timber industry and many more names of deceased timber workers have been collected and this Hickory Shirt Days the second edition of the Logger memorial Book will make its debut.

It was about a year ago that a new committee started work on the second edition. The chairman of the project has been Jo Marie Dahlgren Miller with assistance by Martha Paul. Vern Hestand and Joyce Pagac of Olympic Graphic arts have worked to put the book together.

Hestand’s painting of Todd Horton will grace the cover. Horton is truly the face of what a tragedy it is when our community loses a person to a logging accident. Horton was 47 years old when he was killed. He was a husband, a father, a brother, an uncle and a son, and an involved community member who loved sports. He was president of the West End Youth League, a frequent participant in softball leagues and a basketball player.

He also worked on the committee to organize the Demolition Derby and he was my little neighbor boy when he was growing up.

Thanks to the committee for working so hard on this project.