Saturday, August 17, 2002
Steamboat Springs Hello Bertha and Clyde,
During the low water months, August until April (the annual season during which we had the use of our footlog), our mail was delivered to our mail box beside the Steamboat Springs-Clark highway. And we would pick up or send mail by just crossing the footlog. During the four months of high water when we didn't have a footlog, our girls and later Billy and Jack would be attending summer school at Fly Gulch, so we would have our mail delivered to the school house for our kiddies, our pony express riders, to bring the mail home.
During five to seven months that our pasture road through the hills was usable by auto, we were too far "out of tune" with the rest of the world. But during the balance of the year, our car remained up on blocks, in the garage, and we were dependent on our horses (to pull the buggy or wagon, in mud season sled in winter, or of course under saddle).
This wasn't too different than the inconvenience of living on a remote homestead far back in the hinterlands. But! Here we are located on one of the very finest irrigated river-bottom ranches, and yet as isolated as those remote backcountry homesteads, all for the want of a good, permanent automobile bridge shouldn't be too much of an obstacle, or should it? Fred put building such a bridge at the top of his priority list and started analyzing the proposition. At the high-water lines on the opposite sides of the streambed, the distance was over 100 feet, and that didn't include the approaches on the two sides. Fred calculated that this project would require three piers in the stream plus the two abatements. This would provide four openings through which the stream would pass each space would be over 30 feet at the upstream side and a little less at the downstream side of the bridge. The piers would be log cribs filled with loose rocks wedge-shaped piers, with the point facing upstream.
Fred knew of a stand of Douglas Fir (known locally as red spruce) near Clark, which would provide 36 foot "stringers," two feet in diameter (practically no taper).
He also knew of small dimension red spruce on private land (belonging to Bob Heintze) on the big hill right across the river from our house. This "Heintze" timber would be satisfactory for pier cribs and the shorter approach stringers. And Heintze offered to sell his timber for a reasonable price.
The big question was handling those big 36-foot stringers, but Fred had an employee who claimed to be an old "north woods logger." He assured Fred that he could easily manage the big timbers. So, Fred bought a permit from the Forest Service to cut 20 of those big trees (to proved five stringers for each of the four spans, each span supported midway by a pair of A-frame trusses). Well, the "logger" took two teams and wagons to Clark, cut one tree, and then admitted that he was totally unqualified to handle that big timber. Fred could have handled the project himself had he not had his hands more than full keeping the ranch operating; Fred had no choice but to surrender his timber permit back to the Forest Service. Bridge building was put on hold. Then came the Great Depression.
Well, you know the story of the days from 1930 through 1936.
Next bridge story later.
Until then, sincerely,