Fall City totem pole undergoing transformation

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Because of Boy Scout Troop 425's efforts, the totem pole

that towered over Fall City for almost 50 years will soon be put back

in its original place: a patch of downtown land near Fall City

Elementary School.

The Fall City-based scout troop is restoring the

approximate 45-foot-tall totem pole that depicts the Native American

story of the Raven creator, Quq, who, according to legend, placed

the Moon-child in the sky so fishermen could spear salmon at night.

The pole was carved from old-growth cedar by H.H. Hinds

for his sweetheart and erected in 1934. It is unique because it

was carved all the way around — totem poles are usually

one-sided — and because it was carved by a white man.

"It's really awesome because you can see something that

someone put a large amount of work into," said troop member

Carlin Faultersack. "In every divot of the wood, you can see what

dedication went into it. One person did all this, and it shows how

much dedication he had for a beautiful piece of wood.

"And now we can restore it and put it back," he added.

As decades went by, wood rot set in and began to destroy

the pole, so it was taken down in 1982. While town

residents started a restoration fund, Tulalip Tribesman Herman

Williams carved the new pole that is in place today, which resembles the

original except for its shorter height of 30 feet. A dedication

ceremony was held for the new pole that same year.

Once the old pole is fully restored, it will go back to its

original home, while plans to move the newer pole to Chief

Kanim Middle School are under way.

"I think its going to be a neat addition to Chief Kanim, with

the library and all its Native American artifacts," said Fall City

Community Association Treasurer Laurie Hauglie. The

association owns the property on which the totem pole sits and is in the

process of approving the newer pole's move to the middle school.

The move will occur after the restoration is complete,

which could take place before the summer.

Since it was taken down about 20 years ago, the original pole

has been stored in various barns, and plans have started and stopped

for its restoration.

Now, the giant piece of wood sits on the concrete floor of a

Fall City barn belonging to Wall Street financier Wade Cook,

while Troop 425 diligently works Saturdays to refurbish the

pole's beauty.

The scouts, age 11 to 13, are excited to be refurbishing

something that has historic value for their community.

"The biggest thing is that the boys recognize that they are

contributing to an antique," said Assistant Scout Master Guy


This project earns community-service credit for the boys, an

important part of the Boy Scout philosophy, and allows them to

use and develop skills, another part of their journey up the ladder

of scout rank.

"It gives them satisfaction in the community that they

can come back years later and say, `I did this,' so it gives them a

sense of being part of the community," explained Scout Master

Mack Campbell. "It's also a lesson to them to say that it's not that

difficult to perform community service."

Before the scouts could refinish the pole's exterior, which

includes several animals and Native American figures, the wood's

insides had to be taken care of. For this, the troop hired Wood

Care Systems, a Kirkland wood restoration company. Jim

Renfroe, company president, said two methods were combined to

first stop the wood rot — which he equates to cancer — then

reverse damage already done.

A liquid epoxy, similar to one used in the marine industry,

was applied to the pole's 38-inch base and was allowed to be soaked

up into the trunk. This will prevent water from wicking up and

harming the wood. Then, hundreds of borate rods used in European

restoration were inserted into the wood to help with the rot and

prevent insect invasion. The pole's top, which is Raven's head,

was so badly damaged that it's being re-carved by Chief Kanim

Middle School math teacher Jim Ullman, who has training in

totem-pole carving.

Now that the company is finished with the pole's interior,

the scouts, with Renfroe's assistance and help from parents, are

restoring the exterior. The boys are filling the cracks in the wood

with moldable epoxy, which has a texture similar to Play-Doh. The

epoxy will bond with the wood and provide a paintable

surface. When the totem is finished, it will be painted just as the

original work was, and will be completely waterproof to withstand

several more decades.

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