Bridge Party 1977

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For a number of years, the primary focus in this family was to construct a bridge across Little French Creek to provide reliable access to the ranch. We’d gone through a couple of log bridges, numerous repairs, change of road grades and much clearing of rocks on this road that “wanted to be a trail”.

This April month we had a family celebration to commemorate the completion of that amazing structure. Bob had designed and engineered and spent hours on getting it all put together. We had a couple of huge I-beams that had to be hauled in and placed, building of forms for abutments, several pours of cement, and much tying of wires on rebar. My eldest brother had noticed a large Douglas Fir on a cliff above the bridge and Bob redesigned the bridge to be reinforced enough to withstand the force of a tree that size falling on it. Sometimes, I’m sure, being an engineer can be exhausting. Late night sessions to work on details by generated light, skipped and late dinners, family issues, persistence, lots of studying.

It involved finding the best people to do various parts of the project, including dozers and hauling. We even hauled in a very large water tank, purchased from someone, Mr. McConnell maybe? We filled it with water to sit on top of the west abutment through one winter, full, to make sure the ground settled as it should. I remember that one because we had stored it up in the woods on a rack on a flat place and I helped bring it down to the creek guiding him when he backed up at various times. I think my right big toe got frost bitten when we were working down by the creek getting it onto a platform of some sort—at least that’s my memory.

I think the Bridge will be there when, hundreds of years from now, archaeological digs are being done. It was a wonderful accomplishment although with numerous sacrifices, and I doubt if anyone else has ever done one equal to it.

There were many who were hired to help at various stages and some who donated some time and at this date I cannot remember all their names although some have been included in my previous narrations. But Dennis Corp, Michael and Lori Alan, Bob Raines, Jim Fields, are a few who come to mind. I’m sure my children can recall others. And of course, always Florence and Leonard on numerous occasions. The construction and the concrete pours went on over several years.

So I’ll give a brief description of the celebration and hope a number of pictures have survived since then. There are many slides of the whole process enclosed in at least 4 slide cartridges and, according to my journal, one Christmas I gave Bob a photo album of around 30. But my children will have to decide at some point whether or not anyone wants to make prints of those.

Looking at the photos is enough to make me weep from all the memories and all the loved ones.

“On the 17th of April we had a “bridge party”—about 20 family members. We went out Saturday and stayed over night . I got the house cleaned up and then went down to the bridge site to help Bob. Had bought a big piece of blue and white checked oil cloth to put over the plywood board table and had a vase with flowers. Bob put up posts along the edge of the bridge and we tied yellow surveyors tape to them. Put a big red ribbon across at the end of the bridge.

People started arriving at 3:00—Florence, Leonard, Uncle Stanford and Calvene (and her sister and her husband). Cheryl and Bear, Scott, Kathleen, Bear’s younger sister, Dick and Sandy. Leonard gave a little speech; Uncle Stanford cut the ribbon. Then Uncle Stanford pulled the wagon across with Jeff and Clarke in it and Rebecca pushing. Part way across he said” I can feel it shaking! I can feel it shaking!”

Bob drove the stake-side truck across with everyone in it. We all then got in cars and drove across, honking horns (after having champagne and cake, fruit punch for the kids). The corks were plastic and shot 15 feet up in the air. Everyone went up and inspected the house and then some began driving away. The children played with a Frisbee and the rest of us sat on the porch and talked.

Later, Florence, Leonard, Dick and Sandy and we all ate dinner at the Fish Tail Inn.

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