Last updated: August 9, 2018
Chinook Entrance Arch Restoration Project
SB = Sueann Brown, Historic Architect
BM = Barry McMongle, Lead Carpenter & Log Builder
SB: Ok, I’m standing on the Chinook Arch. This was built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in 1936 to mark the entry to the park. Preserving this arch, there is so much that goes into it. Particularly with it being a historic arch, you know, having to really match the historic detailing exactly, and part of what’s really cool is that we have on our staff such really skilled people that, because we have Rustic Architecture throughout the park, and we have all this log work that needs to be done, they’ve become really skilled at that kind of work. This clearly is on a much more massive scale than just replacing a few logs here and there in a back country cabin, but you know since they’ve been doing that for years they’re- not only are they skilled- but they’re really good about just taking on new challenges. And, so, to do something like this that probably scare the heck out of a lot of people, you know, replacing these logs that span this entire roadway, getting everything to fit just exactly right to match the historic configuration- they welcome those kind of challenges and they figure out how to get it done.
SB: Yeah, we wanted to get everything to go back in exactly the configuration it was before it was removed so they had to number each of the rocks, photograph the way it was before they took it apart, set all that aside, then replace the logs, and then set the stone work back in place. What we did was we took out the logs one season, brought the original logs down to Kautz Creek so that we could work on the logs in the off season, when this area was closed off. They brought the old log down there so they could use that as a guide for reconfiguring all the logs, and then the following season bring them back up and set them back into place.
BM: It was almost ready to fall down last year so we had to cut it out and it just rotted. So it’s a timber structure- hundred percent timber structure- western red cedar, old growth. We were able to find downed timber to replace it almost exactly in-kind. This log is about fifteen thousand pounds, that log is about twelve thousand pounds, so they’re pretty heavy.
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The Chinook Entrance Arch spans the width of the Mather Memorial Parkway (SR 410) at 5,432 feet on the northeastern boundary of the park. The arch was designed as both an entrance portal and an equestrian overpass, to convey hikers and riders on the Pacific Crest Trail. Built in 1936 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the rustic-style arch became deteriorated by the elements and nearly eight decades of use, prompting Mount Rainier National Park to undertake a massive restoration project to preserve this historic structure.