Collaborative effort with Olympic National Park, The Quileute Nation and Mt Olympus Chapter BCHWA Volunteers
By Sherry Baysinger
Newsletter Editor and Photographer for Mt Olympus Chapter of BCHWA
When Larry Lack, Olympic National Park Trail Maintenance Supervisor asked Larry Baysinger, Mt Olympus Chapter Trail Boss if he would be interested in a bridge removal and replacement on the LaPush Beach Trail 2, there was an immediate “YES!”
Although this trail is not a stock trail, it is a favorite of ours and many west-enders. Larry already had a core group of six members who were approved by the ONP to work on trails with respect to Covid-19 rules, which state only five people can work together on a trail crew. Our Chapter also had grant money available to assist members with expenses and use of equipment.
The trail starts on Quileute Tribal land. The bridge which crosses over Lonesome Creek was in danger of failing, but since it is on tribal land, ONP cannot spend funds on it. So, the Quileute Tribal Council provided materials which included 30’ long steel I- beams for the bridge stringers, the ONP provided the drawings and oversight of the project and Mt Olympus Chapter members provided volunteers to remove the old bridge and replace it with materials that will last many years.
Our crew members Mike McCracken (Forks), Ray Sutherland (Joyce), Greg Anderson, and Rich James (Port Angeles) under Larry’s direction moved old and new bridge materials utilizing cables, pulleys, grip hoists, two tractors, dump trailers and flatbeds.
Perhaps the most challenging accomplishment was moving the two 40’ long steel I-beams from the parking area down the trail and placing them over the creek span. The project started on September 20. The old bridge was removed and one I-beam in place when the weather changed to high winds and downpouring rain so on Friday we had to cancel work.
The following Monday we moved the second-stringer into place and began placing the pre-cut cedar rails and planks on the stringers. By Wednesday the bridge was nailed and bolted together, approaches and re-vegging of the site was completed. Six days from start to finish and the bridgework was completed!
At noon Wednesday Tribal Chairman Doug Woodward and the entire available Quileute Tribal Council came to the see the bridge and thank us for our work. And we thanked them for providing the materials. Quileute tribal minister and Vietnam Veteran Tom Jackson gave us some history of his childhood days. He remembered when as a young boy he crossed the creek on a foot log. Having the opportunity to meet in person on the bridge with the Quileute Tribal Council and to express our mutual appreciation was a very satisfying experience for all of us.
We succeeded in accomplishing something more than the replacement of the LaPush Beach 2 bridge replacement project: The collaboration of three groups of people with different mission statements, working successfully together toward a common goal.
The following poem was sent to Larry Baysinger by his grandmother Rose Baysinger before he went to serve with the USMC in Vietnam. It is the catalyst of his love for building bridges.
The Bridge Builder
By Will Allen Dromgoole
An old man going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
Through which was flowing a sullen tide
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”
The builder lifted his old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followed after me to-day
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”
Will Allen Dromgoole was a woman! She attended Clarksville Female Academy (TN) She then studied law with her father at a time when women could not be lawyers. She taught school for a year in Tennessee and later in Temple, Texas, where she founded the Waco Women’s Press Club. She was one of the first women to serve as a Warrant Officer in the Naval Reserve.