This is a tale of two stories that appeared in last week’s Forks Forum. One is about saving our history, the other is about covering it up.
In the first tale, former fire lookout Mike Drovdahl wrote in to tell his first-hand account of his summer job in 1975. He shared an experience that few of us have ever had. In sharing his story, a few more details came out about the real information on the Timber Museum fire lookout tower.
The first question was answered by Randy Mesenbrink in that the last name of Ted mentioned in the story was Bradshaw. Mesenbrink, and after doing a little more research, the writer of the story Drovdahl, shared the following information on the true identity of the tower.
“Originally, the Sekiu Mountain lookout was scheduled to be put up at the Forks museum but because of some misunderstood directions it was accidentally destroyed. The lookout had been determined no longer useable so was offered to the museum.
It was blasted down by dynamite in such a manner as to save the lookout building. A remarkable job to blast the tower down but save the building.
The building was dismantled in large pieces and put in a pile while the tower portion of the lookout (wooden tower) and other unusable pieces of the lookout were put in another pile to be burned.
The crew that went to do the burning lit the wrong pile so the Sekiu lookout was no longer an option.
The Deming lookout apparently was in about the same shape as the Sekiu lookout, was the same design as Sekiu’s and also was to be taken down so the Timber Museum was able to procure it as a replacement. It came to Forks in sections on a lowboy and after the tower was built at the museum it was put together again in sections.”
Mesenbrink also said that although the tower was the Deming tower, the interior furnishings and equipment in the tower are from the Sekiu lookout.
In Drovdahl’s article, he also challenged his classmates and friends to help with the tower repair fund and the “Hogs,” a group of friends that come to Forks each August for a hike, did just that and said they would fund the tower repair!
The second tale is about the picture and story about the Destruction Island sign and where it went. I had a phone call and another person stopped by the Forks Forum office and both told the same story, both also wanted to remain anonymous. They both shared that one day the sign was just gone, when it was asked if another should be made, they were told no, it was not to be replaced. It seems that the story told on the sign was not politically correct and someone somewhere decided to white-wash history by removing the sign. The inscription on the sign told of early explorers and their first interactions with local tribes. Is this news to anybody that the first encounters of explorers and the locals did not go well? So someone chose to hide it from the tourists? That is so wrong.
In light of the recent monument dedication to the Sv. Nikolai, I think that sign needs to come back and we need to remember the old saying, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”
Editor’s Note: Several more calls have come in regarding the missing Destruction Island sign-another update next week….