in the news (137)

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march 2016 | by susan jurasz

Nestled at the base of glacier-laden mountains, bordered by one of the most expansive river deltas in the world (the Copper River Delta) and accessible by only boat and air — Cordova, Alaska is the gateway to a scenic wilderness. Whether you arrive by boat or plane, it is difficult to comprehend the magnitude of what surrounds you. On a cloudy day, you see a small town harbor or a one-room airport. On a sunny day, the beauty of the scenery is so vast and varied that it is difficult to absorb. Our task was to create a mural celebrating the ocean, mountains, and delta to greet visitors arriving at the Merle "Mudhole" Smith Airport.

The biggest challenge to the installation was designing a substrate to level out all the indentations and irregularities in the existing airport walls. We "hung" a new wall over the old, so that the mural would be flush on each of the three walls surrounding the waiting area.

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march 2016 | by susan jurasz | show project

We take for granted the trails and greenspaces that either exist or are being created in our neighborhoods, and for many of them, perhaps all of them, we owe a huge thanks to the people who had the foresight to begin planning them — ten, twenty, thirty years ago.

The Tualatin Greenway in Tualatin, Oregon just had its grand opening. It’s one more link in a chain of regional trails… but this trail segment offers a trail experience that stands out. For a section of this trail, users step back in time to walk across footprints of prehistoric megafauna—giant sloth and mastodon—and see fossils of giant salmon or saber-tooth tigers. You can even touch erratics that traveled hundreds of miles, carried by the catastrophic Missoula floods (evidence of the Ice Age). The concrete path is embedded with granite bands marking some of the land-shaping events of the valley over the past 20,000 years.

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february 2016 | by linda repplinger

My memories of Fort Vancouver as an elementary school student on a field trip included exploring the Fort, watching a cook make hardtack in the Fort’s kitchen, and of course Dr. John McLoughlin, whose presence is just as impressive through his photograph over 150 years later!

Working with the National Park Service to revamp their Visitor Center uncovered many other fun facts. Here are just a couple. Explore the new Visitor Center to find out more!

Archaeologists discovered the world’s largest collection of Spode ceramics down privy holes. Although disposal of ceramic vessels in privies was not a common practice, excess ceramics may have been tossed here and some chamber pots may have accidentally fallen into the holes when emptied. Combined with other sites at the Fort, Fort Vancouver now holds the world’s largest collection of Spode ceramics!

Hawaiians played a large part in the economics of the Hudson’s Bay Company at Fort Vancouver. They worked as loggers, hunters and trappers, farmers, sailors, cooks, and guards. Fort Vancouver regularly traded lumber, flour, and lomo lomi smoked salmon via Hudson’s Bay ships to a commercial post in Honolulu, in return Hawaii traded coffee, sugar, molasses, rice, and salt which could then be distributed to smaller posts. This relationship may be partly due to friendship between the royal family in Hawaii with the royal family in England.

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february 2016 | by cory schott

"Well, it’s sort of like that Iditarod, but this is way more interesting."

When I tell people that we are working on a project for the Iditarod National Historic Trail for the Forest Service, I say the above sentence a lot. Even to Alaskans.

Everyone knows about the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. Today, teams of mushers leave downtown Anchorage on an epic journey across Alaska’s interior thats ends far to the north, in Nome. They also likely know that the race commemorates a famous 1925 serum run that saved the children of Nome from a diphtheria outbreak.

In reality, the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, the 1925 Serum Run, and the Iditarod National Historic Trail are so intertwined and jumbled together that in most minds, they are all the same. They are, however, not the same thing.

Our job in the coming months is to untangle these three interwoven stories and highlight the importance of the historic trail. We will be crafting an interpretive plan for the southern portion of the Iditarod National Historic Trail, which stretches from Girdwood (a resort town south of Anchorage) to Seward (a strategic deep-water port). It was this route that the majority of people took to get to goldfields in Alaska in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The job ahead will not be easy. On the one hand, the word Iditarod is instantly recognizable to people all over the world. On the other, the word’s association with race and serum run cloud the historic importance of the entire route.

We got a sense of the types of themes and stories from our first trip on the ground recently. While sled dogs will certainly be featured prominently in our interpretive storyline, so too will the miners, native peoples, Russian traders, vagabonds, merchants, and colorful characters that populated this important history. One such person we came across was a woman by the name of Alaska Nellie, the owner of a series of roadhouses along the historic route.

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january 2016 | by peter reedijk

Snow flurries just started as I began my trip down 191 to Pinedale, WY. It was late and getting dark, so I was eager to get some miles behind me. Only minutes outside Jackson Hole, the snow, no longer just flurries, started to close in on the road. I was gaining elevation and the road became a serpentine of curves, limiting my view. Darkness descended all around me and there was nobody on the road. No lights behind me and no lights ahead. It feels lonely here. . . Then suddenly, a warning light flashes urgently: BEWARE, deer next 5 miles. And not just a simple warning, but a 20-foot wide warning sign! My mind races ahead to tomorrow’s installation.

That is why I'm here. Our install crew has been on the road for several days and we are about to rendezvous and install a 30-foot-long outdoor art structure at a pullout overlooking a vast prairie. The installation interprets the long trek both pronghorn and antelope make during the spring and fall migrations. These lovely mammals used to cross this treacherous road often causing many human and wildlife casualties. Now a specially designed overpass allows wildlife to cross safely, out of harms way. The overpass is massive and our art installation attempts to put into scale the size and significance of this structure. My focus shifts back to the road. Still two hours to go. Watching out for stragglers passing by.

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november 2015 | by susan jurasz

After several months of work, the final products for the first phase of the Beaverton Wayfinding project, to be installed in Old Town, are rolling out the door. As with all wayfinding projects, the level of detail on these parking lot identifiers, pedestrian directionals, welcome signs, and information kiosks is astounding. Every aspect of the process is checked and double-checked; from the initial design through mapping, location identifiers, legend plans (what each sign says and the direction of the arrows), construction drawings, engineering, fabrication, sandblasting, automotive paints, powdercoats, printing and application of the legends to the painted sign fronts, to map application. Each step passes through a rigorous quality control check.

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october 2015 | by peter reedijk

Yesterday, students from Sheridan's Japanese School presented Sea Reach with a card, a box of doughnuts, and an overflowing basket of Japanese candy as a thank you to our team—in particular one of of fabricators, Chino for helping them outfit the school with proper lockers.

Sea Reach donated the metal plating for the sides and backs of the lockers while Chino measured and cut the plates to size. He then delivered the materials so that they could be painted and riveted to an existing structure.

The candy was approached with some trepidation, owing to some unique packaging, but was gone within 24 hours.

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august 2015 | by susan jurasz

"It rained for forty days and forty nights and the sun never set."
This is the line from one of our installers after a month working out of Seward, Alaska. He was assembling and erecting a series of large and small Alaskan yellow cedar kiosks along the historic Iditarod Trail. During the installation, he lived in a cabin, watching eagles each night and collecting Alaska stories in the rain and the lingering light. The best tales were about the salmon and the raven.

From almost the first day, Ray began fishing after work. His catch quickly accumulated, so, ever resourceful, he decided to build himself a smoker. A friendly Alaskan gave him some aged alderwood, and soon he was dining on his own freshly caught and smoked salmon.

The raven came later. At one of the job sites, near the end of the work, he was up on top of the kiosk installing the metal roof when a group of tourists stopped nearby. For the longest time, they stood and photographed him working. After a while, he began to think this very odd. When he finally looked questioningly at them, they asked: "Is that raven your pet?" Standing beside him on the peak of the roof was a huge black bird. Every time Ray moved forward and back, securing the metal to the wood rafters, the raven had stepped forward and back in a synchronized rhythm. The onlookers were fascinated, and Ray was tickled. Later, he shared his salmon with the raven and considered him a pal.

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august 2015 | by cory schott

We are working on a project for Sound Transit (the transit authority for Puget Sound) to interpret an historic train trestle that is soon to be demolished and replaced with a long span bridge. Since the trestle is being removed, we wanted to preserve the experience of riding across this long wooden trestle, particularly because it has an S-curve in it — so, we asked if we could set up a camera on a train and ride across. The client smiled and said —"Better than a train, let’s take the Hi Rail."

It turns out that a Hi Rail is a truck fitted with steel guide wheels in the front and back that allow it to move from road to rail with a simple flip of a switch. Hydraulic pumps lower the rail wheels onto the track and secure the truck onto the rails. Its tires still provide the propulsion and braking, but most of the weight is on the rail wheels. No steering is required. In fact, our first ride across the trestle was backwards! Our team attached cameras to several places on the Hi Rail vehicle.

Prior to taking the ride, we had to pass an online safety class and then we met again for a safety briefing before we got on the tracks. They told us we had two hours with clear tracks… according to routing officials stationed in Texas!

Our Hi Rail driver, Ron, has been working on this section of track for decades, including with the trestle’s previous owners, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (better known as the Milwaukee Road). He shared some great stories. It was amazing to experience it in person.

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july 2015 | by susan jurasz | show project

Imagine building a gigantic bird’s nest, stick by stick, one large enough to fit all your friends… Of course, it helps if all your friends help you build it too.

Sometimes a project has all the elements of imagination, art, fantasy, and fun. For several years, Sea Reach has been working with Mount Pisgah Arboretum in Eugene to develop an interpretive program that inspires visitors to look more closely at the natural world around them—or at least to see aspects of the natural world around them that may previously passed by without notice. There will be seven to eight interpretive nodes at the Arboretum. Each node is different, and all designed to inform the visitor and delight the senses.

The first node, under construction now, is the "Water Garden"—a raised platform along a slough that’s seasonally flooded by the west fork of the Willamette River—the wetter areas full of lily pads and the edges a wild jungle of riparian species. If you’re lucky, in the wetter season, you can glimpse a turtle basking in the sun. In the drier season, you might hear a pileated woodpecker tapping out a beat in search of insects.

The node consists of a viewing blind and a walk-through tunnel, constructed of aluminum poles and hand-woven filbert and willow branches. Windows—high and low—allow for a variety of perspectives on the seasonal wetland.

Interested in being part of the weaving party? Volunteers are welcome: contact the Arboretum here!

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