Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Kudos Korner

| September 1, 2020 1:00 AM

On Aug. 20, I was awarded the Esto Perpetua Award from the Idaho Historical Society for my work as president of the Pulaski Project. I appreciate the recognition by the ISHS and the front-page article by Chanse Watson of the Shoshone News Press. However, I would be remiss if I did not recognize numerous people who also contributed to the preservation of the trail and the Pulaski Tunnel.

The Pulaski Project is a Division of Greater Wallace Community Development Corporation whose president is Chris Stuecker. The group raised funds and worked with the Forest Service during the project. Members included Executive Director Ron Roizen, President Jim See, Vice President Robin Stanley, Treasurer Dennis O’Brien, Harry Magnuson, Jon Cantamessa, Richard Caron, Fred Traxler, Dale Lavigne, John Amonson and Karen Roetter.

The initial funding of nearly $300,000 was provided by Senator Larry Craig through an earmark administered through the Forest Service. Dan Whiting and John Martin worked with the Pulaski Project to implement the funding.

Shoshone County Commissioners Jon Cantamessa, Sherry Krulitz and Jim Vergobbi, and Treasurer Peggy White provided support with Title III grants.

The United States Forest Service was the lead agency for the trail project, headed by Forest Service engineer Larry Shepherd. Other Forest Service employees included Ranotta McNair, Randy Swick, Linda McFaddan, Sanford Killian, Kimberly Johnson, Jack Dorrell, Andy Boggs, Tom Ball, Jim Langdon, Kent Wellner, Dave O’Brien, Stephan Matz, Jane Houghton, Mike Beckes, Sarah Wilson, JJ Jones, Suzanne Endsley, Rob Davies, Tom Sudul, Kirby Matthew, Peg Polichio, Ian Cotter, Gail Aschenbrenner West, Teri Carlson, and others.

Idaho Department of Lands, led locally by Kyell Truesdell, provided pulaskis and some trail maintenance.

Construction companies were led by DJ & A, a contracted engineering firm that included Ron Milam, PLS, and Mike Jensen. Wesslen Construction was responsible for the trailhead area that included the construction of the parking lot, the placement of the toilet, the installation of the cable fence and Moosman Bridge and the placement of pavement and block walls. These were elements of the handicapped-accessible first eighth mile. Workers were Ben Wesslen, Craig Conklin, Andrew Conklin and Chris Westbrook.

KD Construction members included Kay Clift, Dwight Clift and Rawley Bigsby. Kay and Dwight were largely responsible for building a new trail in the first half mile. They also installed four bridges, six boardwalks, 13 signs and gabion structures. In addition, they renovated the rest of the old trail surface and built the pole fences.

Other contributors included rock wall construction by Jeramie Oertli of Oertli Custom Stone and Slate, construction of benches by Don Kotschevar and Mullan students, Moosman Bridge installation by Coeur d’Alene Crane and Construction, transport of materials for the rock wall and pole fence at the mine portal overlook by Panhandle Helicopter, mine portal poles supplied by Elmer Matilla of Idaho Veneer Company, milage and informational signs supplied by Condon Sign Shop. Artist Hal Payne carved the portal poles.

Northwest Archaeological Associates provided an archaeological study of the destination area. Archaeologists included Lorelea Hudson, Alicia Valentino, Yonara Carrilho, Margie Elm and Dylan Henderson. Student Archaeology Aides were Mullan High School students Trevor Henderson, Brittany Walsh, Chad Dawson and Damon Reed.

Additional project funding was provided by the Resource Advisory Council — Title II, Idaho Department of Parks & Recreation, Forest Service Centennial Service Funds, Inland Northwest Community Foundation, and local contributions.

Organizations that granted easements for the trail included Don Pischner with Stimson Lumber Company, Hecla Mining Company, Bureau of Land Management, and East Shoshone Water District with Carl Scheel, Dale Newell and Lane Whiteside.

Graphic designer Grady Myers designed the signs that were manufactured by KVO Industries represented by Steve Vandyk.

Published resources include the following Forest Service reports “Ed Pulaski: Two Days in August 1910” by Carl Ritchie, “Surrounded by Forest Fires” by Edward Pulaski, “When Mountains Roared” by Elers Koch. Book references include "Year of the Fires" by Steven Pyne, "The Big Burn" by Timothy Egan, "The Big Burn: The Northwest's Great Forest Fire of 1910" by Don Miller and Stan Cohen, "Northwest Disaster: Avalanche and Fire" by Ruby El Hult and "The Big Blowup" by Betty Goodwin Spencer, among others.

Finally, I would like to recognize two special individuals whose help and support has been essential for this project. Tom Harman has participated in countless hikes on the trail to assess progress and participate in activities. He has also assisted in numerous small maintenance projects. Linda See assisted with various presentations and has tolerated my incessant obsession with the project and endured the retelling of bits of the story ad nauseum.

The combined support and contributions of all these people have helped to preserve the history of the Great Fire of 1910 and the story of Ed Pulaski and the Pulaski Tunnel Trail for Idaho and the nation. A bit of the Esto Perpetua Award belongs to each and every one of them.

Thanks to all of you!