Billy and His Bridge

It was the spring of 1970, the time of the year when the days were starting to get a little longer and the sun was starting to get a little hotter. The leads were inching their way father into the still frozen lakes and the water was starting to run faster in the narrow parts of the rivers. The logging in the Prince George area was starting to come to an end. It was the start of break up.

One of the mills I had been hauling fuel to, Kerry Lake Sawmill, was located about 60 miles north on the Hart Highway, and they had a logging operation on Red Rocky Lake that paralleled the highway and just south of the mill.

During the winter they were Arching tree length logs out of the bush to a landing a crossed lake from the highway, bucking them to length and decking them on the lake. When the ice had cleared they would float them down the Crooked River, catching them in log booms and then feed them into the sawmill.

On this particular beautiful spring day, I had just finished unloading at the mill when Billy, the bush foreman called me on the radio.

“Mel I want you to go to Red Rocky Landing and pump out that 1000 gallon tank so we can seal it up and float it down the river to the mill.” So I drove down to Red Rocky and parked looking at the Bridge.

Now maybe I should describe this so called bridge. It built with two gravel approaches at a narrow spot in the river with logs placed to span the distance between them and then gravel was put on top to smooth it out and it was put in, in the fall when the water in the river was low.

During the winter when every thing was frozen, it work well considering only the loggers pick ups and the fuel truck crossed it. The logging equipment crossed it after it froze in and before break up.

As I sat looking at it, that day, with the high water running almost over top of it, nibbling at its less than stable decking, I thought, ‘There is now way I hell I’m going to drive this tanker a crossed this so called bridge.’ So I called Billy on the radio and told him so.

“What do you mean; you’re not going to cross it. It’s perfectly safe, I drove over it yesterday.” Billy answered.

“Yeah, in your pick up, if you want this truck to go a crossed it now, you come down here and drive it a crossed your self. I’ll wait in your pick up on this side.”

“I thought you were supposed to be a truck driver,” was his more than sarcastic answer.

“I am,” I answered as I backed out onto the highway, “But I’m not that stupid,” and then I rattled down the Highway empty, going home, but still dry.

Later in the week, noticing the tank was gone, I asked Bill what they had done with it. “We sealed it up and rolled it into the water and floated it down to the mill,” then with a sheepish grin on his face said, “there was only about a 100 gallons in it.”