The month of July started pretty fast with lots of dancing and social events, but things have picked up even more since then.
I met a guy who loves to travel and before long we were planning a shake-down cruise in his 40-ft. motor home, hereinafter referred to as the RV. For the few days leading up to the journey, there was a lot of discussion about what to wear, what to bring, what to leave behind, what foods we might want and several demonstrations of on-board equipment. I could tell that my sailing experiences were going to come in handy.
|Wayne Ratcliff, standing tall with his buddy.|
Wayne is a former forester/farmer with a lot of sensibility about a lot of things, so I trusted his judgment and as he began to realize that he had an 8-year veteran of live-aboard sailing, he began to trust mine. Transitioning from a 45-sailboat to a 40-ft RV is really relatively easy. Except for pulling up the anchor and setting sail, the routines for getting under way are similar.
We started from Sequim, WA, on Aug. 2 with a nearly full tank of gas. As we headed for Forks, WA, his former stomping grounds, we talked a bit about what each of us wants to find in sharing this RV journey. Wayne is an accomplished square dancer, so we will be taking in a lot of dances wherever we go. He is also very involved in ancestry and genealogy.
I am a photographer and a watercolor artist who wants to build up her bank of resources for future art efforts. And both of us like history, so museums and opportunities to learn more about people, places and things is quite agreeable.
|I love seeing that tiny tree starting to grow near the|
enormous tailhold block used for moving logs.
So it is no surprise that we went to the Forks Timber Museum at 1421 S. Forks Ave., right on the way toward Lake Quinault and Westport, our final destination.
This wonderful labor of love for the timber industry is open daily year-round with a steadily growing collection of all the bits and pieces that made Washington State one of the leaders in wood products and Forks the “logging capital of the world” (Museum quote).
|This early farm tractor is one of many timber and farm tools|
from the era found in the museum.
Early settlers of the ‘West End’ of Washington logged the abundant old growth trees by hand and with the help of teams of oxen in the 1870s. But as the trees were discovered (Cedar, Sitka Spruce and Douglas Fir) with their unique properties, the demand grew. Michael Earles, called the timber baron and developer of the first Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, was responsible for setting up logging camps in the early 1900s providing work for hundreds of men and women. While the men were out falling, bucking, yarding, loading and hauling timber, the women were cooking, washing, working in cedar shake mills (losing fingers) and tending farms and gardens to help their men survive.
|Wayne used to milk cows so he had no|
trouble explaining what this device is.
(For those who don't know, it's attached
to the udder to milk the cow. One of the
first automated milking devices.)
|Display of a typical bunkhouse in the logging camp.|
By 1914, the demand for Sitka Spruce for airplanes intensified with the advent of World War I and it wasn’t long before the U.S. Army had built a railroad from Port Angeles to Lake Pleasant providing a quicker way to get the trees off the mountains and into the mills.
|The camp kitchen was critical to a successful logging operation. The men|
eat lots of carbs and protein to keep their energy up for working in the timber
In the museum you can see an example of a typical bunk house, camp kitchen, explanations for some of the tools used, a lookout tower (for fire fighting) as well as a memorial wall for those who died in the forest and in other ways during the growth of this industry.
|Linda Offett is in charge of the museum; she's on my left.|
We are standing in front of a reclaimed observation fire
The museum charges only a few dollars to come in and browse, read, ask questions and learn more about the timber industry that made Forks and much of the West End what it is today.
Forks doubled in size during the boom years and now is better known for its role in the movie series “Twilight.” It is still finding its legs and direction now that logging has diminished significantly, but it is still a place worth visiting and especially taking at least an hour from driving to enjoy a special museum honoring the timber industry past.
|Joe Offett, Wayne Ratcliff, me and Linda Offett as we prepare to head|
further south after a great visit.
Forks Museum website: forkstimbermuseum.org.