By Dave Battey
Have you ever had a vision, a hope, or a plan, that you felt was important to your community? One dream that has come to fruition after many years of work by Valley citizens and businesses is the log shelter and interpretive center north (toward the Falls) of the Snoqualmie depot.
Starting about 1976, the idea for a sawmill display began to take form. A single giant Douglas Fir, enjoyed by generations of Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Company and Weyerhaeuser employees and visitors had been struck by lightening. The top half was dead. This venerable giant, which had proudly withstood the primary dangers to tall trees from humankind, high winds and gravity, was now more vulnerable to disease and a threat to its own offspring. As a snag ages and rots, the wood takes on a punky texture. Future lightening strikes could ignite this punk, spewing live coals for hundreds of feet around the tree and triggering forest fires. So after being treasured as a symbol of the past by woods bosses Don Schriver and Ole Grette for these many years, the decision was made to fall her.
Snoqualmie Mayor Charles Peterson heard the news. He dreamed of a specimen log for the city. This log would help everyone understand the challenges and opportunities that the virgin forest had given to our ancestors, whether they worked in the woods or mill, or were the consumers of the straight grained, clear (of knots) lumber for their homes, farms and businesses. The Mill was interested in helping, but initially perceived the town’s requirement as the normal two foot “chunk” from the butt of the log, which could be mounted on a base as part of an exhibit. Snoqualmie wanted the whole butt log. Mayor Peterson and Harry Shook from Weyerhaeuser began negotiating. As the dream of a uniquely impressive log display grew, the Snoqualmie Park Board made a site available and the Mill challenged the City. If Snoqualmie could find a sawmill carriage to put the behemoth on, Weyerhaeuser would donate at least twenty feet of the log (containing enough lumber to build two average houses.)
Snoqualmie found a surplused Weyerhaeuser carriage in Aberdeen. It was a big carriage, far too big to efficiently cut most of today’s second and third growth timber, but still dwarfed by The Log. It was brought to the Mill by railroad, and to the site by Puget Sound Railway Historical Association locomotive. Then, no easy feat, The Log was moved to the site and onto the carriage. Being significantly larger in diameter than a normal log, steel beam braces were installed to keep her on the carriage. It was 1979.
Over the years, covering the log and carriage to protect them from the elements became more and more important. In 1988, as the Snoqualmie Centennial year neared, renewed interest and resources began to come forward. Puget Power provided an architect. Weyerhaeuser supplied huge beams and other historical building materials from Mill #1. Many businesses came forward with donated or at‑cost materials. Individual citizens donated their time and talents. Money paid by those producing the television series Twin Peaks was donated.
Supported by Mayor Jeanne Hansen and directed by city administrator Kim Wilde, this dream of a unique memorial to our past provided a foundation for the structure that now covers the log in 1989 and a completed roof by 1992. Over the years additional features have been added including a fence to deter vandalism, lighting to show off the log at night and interpretive signs to tell the story.
So the next time you have an idea that you think is important for your community ‑ and consider the project to be too big or too difficult, remember this log shelter, or the Farm Shed at the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Society Museum, or the protected King County Historic Sycamore Corridor on Reinig Road, or the North Bend depot, or the Snoqualmie Hospital. These and hundreds of other legacies all began as citizen’s dreams for our Valley.
LOG VITAL STATISTICS
LENGTH: 26 Feet
DIAMETER LARGE END: 11′, 6″
DIAMETER SMALL END: 8′, 10″
BARK THICKNESS: 4″ average
THICKEST PART: 7″ inches
WEIGHT: Approximately 39 tons
AGE: Approximately 400 years
CUT: In 1976, Seedling in 1576