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Year IV

Restoration Progress, 2002
State of Alaska sponsored Project #1365:

Annie Hopper, logistics coordinator, Mike Musick, General Contractor, and Sandy Jamieson, Log Builder, began the planning for the First Phase of the Rapids Roadhouse Restoration Project in January 2002. Together we developed supply lists, time frames, and construction plans. We sent out supply lists for bid, solicited donations, and set a construction schedule for May 15 – June 15, 2002.

The basic support elements for work in this remote location were in themselves a challenge and we received help from a variety of sources. A local resident donated a Connex unit to securely store tools since numerous supplies were stolen in FY2001. The Wheat Family of Fairbanks donated a Winnebago to use on site for the duration of the project, which provided valuable shelter during inclement weather and sleeping quarters for security personnel. Volunteers cleaned the old 1950′s lodge (section #6) to provide dining, storage and occasional sleeping space for the hired and volunteer help. Larry Dorhurst donated the use of a 400-gallon water buffalo. We arranged for a Porta-Potty to be on site through 6/24/02. Friends, family members and colleagues provided numerous meals and supplies to feed the full-time crew and large parties of weekend volunteers. The nearby Black Rapids Military Training provided showers through the end of June, as well as refrigeration, freezer storage, and access to electrical outlets to recharge batteries for cell phone, cameras, tools, etc.

Soon after the project started, on May 20, 2002, the Fairbanks Daily News miner ran a front-page story about the restoration project (Appendix B). This unexpected publicity brought numerous visitors to the site throughout the project.

The project had over 45 volunteers. These included some pretty busy notables including Althea St. Martin, special assistant to Senator Murkowski, and Annette Freiburger, Executive Director of Fairbanks Native Association. Our visitor list was equally distinguished and included Tom Moyer, Assistant to Governor Knowles, and the Army Corps of Engineers working on the nearby Ft. Greeley Missile Defense Project. We kept a guest sign-in book throughout the project.

On the last full day of the project, June 23, 2002, essential crewmembers were given commemorative embroidered ball caps in honor of the expertise and dedication they demonstrated in the completion of the first phase.

A photo summation of the project is included as Appendix A. Pages are numbered and correlate with the following summary of activities by week.

Summary of Activities:
Week 1: May 15 – May 19, 2002

Mobilization of resources began with the deliver of the water buffalo, Porta-Potty, Winnebago, and heavy equipment. The weather was harsh with intermittent periods of snowfall mixed with rain. Mark Nielsen began the excavation work slowly removing frozen glacial silt from the perimeter of sections #1 and #7. We had to wait for some of the ground to thaw at times and feared we might have started too early in the summer. Each day the building became more accessible and eventually the entire perimeter was excavated; an old strong box was found buried during excavation but contained no artifacts. This excavation revealed hidden layers of rotted log rounds as well as remnants of a linoleum and wood floor. Additional gravel was then hauled from nearby One Mile Creek and stockpiled on site by dump truck.

Section #7 was strapped, clamped, and vertically stabilized with 4×4 and 6×6 support timbers; the planned 2x4s proved insufficient for the job. Next most of the muslin and canvas material was torn down from the many walls it covered. That which had writing or print on it was salvaged. Writing on the logs themselves revealed clues to the Roadhouse’s past with “James Raymond April 11, 1906 Seattle” and “Fairbanks, 153 miles” inscribed on the interior of the east wall of section #7. Various pieces of Wallace and Queen Ann china were found and stored. Newsprint, comics and old bottles were also found and stored for future inspection.

Sandy Jamieson wonders how old is old | Sandy Jamieson and Mike Musick ponder how and where
The weather turned better late in the first week and remained a perfect temperature with sunny blue skies for several weeks. Volunteers’ laborers arrived including Phil Marshall and Ben Kirker. Volunteer architect Janet Matheson arrived for her first site visit. After consultation with her, the builders decided the Roadhouse should be raised at least an addition five (5) inches from the planned elevation (that of the existing 1950′s lodge, section #6) to improve drainage.

The wind-drifted soil from the interior of section #7 was excavated by hand throughout weeks 1 and 2, and then back filled with gravel and compacted. The undisturbed ground under the lodge was surprisingly well-compacted clean gravel. Thus foundation pad fill took less time and material than originally anticipated. The final compacted interior gravel floor was determined to be six (6) inches below the brass survey monument of 1923. Section #8 was dismantled to allow for access to the southeast corner of section #7 for cribbing and jacking. Salvageable logs were stored for later reconstruction.

The crew stabilized the building sufficiently to take two days off. Workweeks ran Wednesday through Sunday to accommodate working volunteers. Mike Musick and Sandy Jamieson developed an estimate of needed log replacements and developed a labeling system for future log replacement (Appendix C, Catalog and labeling system).

Ben Kirker stayed on site to continue working and provide “weekend” security.

Week 2: May 22 – May 27, 2002

This week involved continued stabilization of Section #7. More bracing was needed and the two-story structure was anchored because it wanted to slide west. We also discovered that the perimeter excavation had exposed the frozen, rotted lower rounds of both sections #7 and adjoining section #1. The Northwest corner of this latter section was threatened with collapse and was propped up. Upon removal of the muslin wall coverings between the two sections, we also discovered that they shared a common interior wall. For these reasons, the decision was made to raise both sections in unison. (This unexpected development and decision proved to be significant: jacking and cribbing, followed by lower round replacement on concrete footings, of both sections involved considerable additional time and resources. This development resulted in grant amendments for both the phase I and phase II grants.)

Architect Janet Matheson, husband and new puppy visit site | Scientist Keith Ecklemeyer and student break for the Hopper kids lemonade.  Soon after the jacking and cribbing began, it became clear that our initial supply of rented cribbing was woefully inadequate and additional sources were sought in Fairbanks. Dave Thompson proved a steady source of assorted timbers and Flow line, Alaska, also donated an additional supply. Mike Hopper hauled down the cribbing on a steady basis upon demand of the builders.

Janet Matheson came for a second site visit and Phil Marshall cleaned the 2nd floor of Section #7. We saved one old bed mattress from the second floor. An old “US Mail” bag was discovered and wall coverings from “Chitna” indicated they might have previously covered dozens of egg crates. Annie Hopper and Phil Marshall worked through Memorial Day. We had fewer visitors this week but the Hopper kids still managed a brisk roadside lemonade business.