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Creston Museum set to unload historic logging arch

After being returned from Manitoba where it was sent for restoration, the Creston Museum is preparing to unload its newly restored logging arch.

According to museum manager Tammy Bradford, the horse-drawn log skidding machine, consisting of two ten-foot-diameter wooden wheels joined by a massive axel and a 16-foot pole to hitch horses to.

“It was designed for hauling log out of the bush,” she says. “If the log or stack of logs could fit under the axel and between the wheels, this thing could pull them. So anything up to about five feet high and 100 feet long. This is a massive machine intended to do a lot of hard, heavy work, skidding logs on roads that are barely even there.”

The arch came into the Creston Valley about 1908, was used for a few years in the Canyon City Lumber Company’s operations, then spent at least 40 years abandoned in a field before winding up in a heap at the Creston Museum in 1980.

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The Creston Museum’s logging arch in use about 1910. (Courtesy Creston Museum)

“We patched it back together and displayed it for another 40 years, but it was in pretty rough shape after all of that,” Bradford says. “Thanks to incredible support from the community and local funders, we have been able to get the logging arch fully rebuilt to operating condition.”

In August 2020, the arch was taken apart and sent it off to Rapid City, Manitoba, where master craftsman and wheelwright Brian Reynolds restored it. Bradford says Reynolds had to build everything by hand and figure out techniques to work on the wheels, which have hubs 19 by 20 inches. Reynolds is one of the few people in Canada with a lathe big enough to turn those hubs, she says.

“They absolutely dwarf your standard wagon wheel hub. He was figuring out how do we do this without any kind of repair manual. It was pretty amazing to watch all of that happen.

“The precision of the workmanship is so essential but the size of the wheels makes it that much harder to achieve.”

Bradford says they were connected with Reynolds thanks to Jeremy Masterson at the Remington Carriage Museum in Cardson, Alta. Masterson has technical advisor on the project.

Reynolds is now trucking it to Creston, where it should arrive this evening and be unloaded tomorrow using a crane truck.

The public is welcome to watch starting at 9:15 a.m. Unloading will actually start around 8:30, but they would like some time to get the equipment into place. They ask that you be cautious and part well away from the activity.

Bradford says it will be a great chance to meet Reynolds and learn about the “very detailed and complex process to rebuild the arch,” while they can tell you more about the historical research that has supported its restoration and the story of the arch itself.

Funding for the project came from the Columbia Basin Trust, Canfor Wynndel, the Creston Valley Community Foundation, and other donors.

A quarter-scale replica of the arch at the Creston Museum. (Courtesy Creston Museum)
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