Work to lift the chalet off its foundation began on Saturday and continued on Sunday. By Sunday afternoon, four steel sliding beams had been placed under the chalet and the chalet was moved an initial eight feet east of its original location and away from the eroding bank of the East Fork Quinault River. On Monday, contractors continued the move, sliding the chalet an additional 60 feet. Contractors expect to complete the temporary relocation within the next few days.
Stock and a helicopter will be used to transport materials from the site beginning Thursday, September 11.
Equipment and materials including hardware, tools, and camp supplies were transported the 13 miles from Graves Creek Trailhead to Enchanted Valley on mules beginning September 1. Items like steel beams and cribbing that were too large to be packed in were flown by helicopter to the site.
Monroe House Moving, Inc. of Sequim, Washington was awarded the contract to move the building. Using standard house-moving techniques, the contractor installed two main lifting beams beneath the chalet, lifted the building approximately 20 inches, placed four sliding steel beams beneath the house, and used hydraulic jacks to push the structure away from the river bank.
Once the structure is moved, the building will be lowered onto cribbing towers. A planning and environmental analysis process will begin shortly to plan for the final disposition of the chalet.
The chalet relocation project was examined in the “Emergency Action to Temporarily Relocate the Enchanted Valley Chalet for the Protection of the East Fork Quinault River Environmental Assessment” (EA) and a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was issued on July 25.
The Enchanted Valley Chalet is located 13 miles from the nearest road, deep within the Olympic Wilderness. The chalet was constructed by Quinault Valley residents in the early 1930s, prior to establishment of Olympic National Park. The chalet served for several decades as a backcountry lodge and more recently, as a wilderness ranger station and emergency shelter. The chalet was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
Photos shared by park visitors in early January showed that the main channel of the East Fork Quinault River had migrated to within 18 inches of the 1930s-era chalet. Last winter’s storms and high flows resulted in the Quinault’s main channel continuing to shift by at least 15 feet. Recent photographs show that the river has undercut the building by approximately eight feet.
Migration of the East Fork Quinault’s channel is common in the loose, unconsolidated soils of Enchanted Valley. Storms, fallen trees, rockslides and simply the constant process of erosion can all cause the river to shift and carve a new channel.
The EA and the FONSI, along with other supporting documents, are available for review at http://www.parkplanning.nps.gov/EVCEA.