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Fall City totem pole undergoing transformation
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
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
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
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.