Coffee Creek Bridgebuilding, on Bunker Hill Road. 8/17/03

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©2003 Scott Webber: 152

Trailers, machines, etc. Loaded for the 80 mile highway trip to Brakes Bottom - the start of the Bunker Hill Road. Keith Andrews is the rider that built both trailers. The big one is the "he-man" trailer; the small one on top is the one to be pulled by the ATV's. Has Beech 18 aircraft tires.

©2003 Scott Webber: 153

Keith checks load prior to pulling out.

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Roadside Panorama. Looking south while approaching Goldengate pass.

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Another roadside panorama. Ahead on the road is Goldengate, while to the right (south) is the Pilgrim River valley which drains Salmon Lake, Alaska.

©2003 Scott Webber: 162

Roadside panorama approaching Goldengate pass.

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Coming up on the Kuzitrin River Bridge, milepost 68 on the Nome-Taylor highway. This bridge was originally in downtown Fairbanks, Alaska and was brought here by the Alaska Department of Highways in the early 60's.

©2003 Scott Webber: 168

Close up of the Kuzitrin River Bridge, milepost 68. Formerly the downtown Fairbanks, Cushman St. Bridge. This WAS the end of the Alaska Highway in Fairbanks. The bridge was too narrow for a growing Fairbanks, Alaska so they moved it here to the farthest west city of the civilized world.

©2003 Scott Webber: 169

Finally, at Mile 80 on the Nome-Taylor highway we arrive at a roadside gravel pit. The cabins in the left background is what is known as 'Brakes Bottom.' The origin of this name is not known. To the right, out of sight, is Quartz Creek. In this picture, the small trailer containing the bridge components has been hooked up to the Honda 300 4x4 ATV. This is a humongous load for this little ATV, but going slow it made it.

©2003 Scott Webber: 170

That is Ramon Gandia pulling out of the gravel pit. The highway to Nome is in the background. Quartz Creek is just over the gravel, but due to the angle, cannot be seen.

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Stuck. This is a dilapidated bridge on the Bunker Road; the timbers are in place, but the decking is gone. It so happens the ATV straddles two of the timbers, and the trailer can straddle three of them. But in this case, due to the incompetence of the driver (me), the trailer fell almost off the bridge and high centered. Nothing that a lot of work and half hour delay did not solve.

©2003 Scott Webber: 174

We have arrived at Coffee Creek. The water on the left is just a puddle. The timber on the left is all that is left of the original bridge, which collapsed into the water. Here we are backing up the trailer/crane/bridge towards Coffee Creek. Ramon is in coveralls; Keith Andrews is on the left fudsing with the bridge, and Carl Rock is the wearer of the blue hat. Not shown is Scott Webber who was taking these pictures.

©2003 Scott Webber: 177

We back the trailer to the creek, the boom and hoist lift the section at the balance point, we back the trailer some more, and, Voila! no need to get wet!

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Well, not so simple. Kept getting stuck trying to back the trailer to the creek. Carl is pulling, while Keith pushes with the Honda 4x4. Ramon is telling Carl not to fall into the creek. As if he needed telling!

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Here we deal with those last precious yards, as the trailer is stuck.

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At last, we are starting to reach across Coffee Creek. This creek is 16 foot from bank to bottom, and here it is swollen with rainwater and about 12 ft deep. The water is absolutely black. Can't see more than about 3 inches into it. There are beaver dams everywhere. No wonder its black coffee color spawned its name!

©2003 Scott Webber: 188

Keith is disconnecting the first section, which has now spanned Coffee Creek.

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Carl and Ramon huff and puff to get the second section swung out into position. Things are starting to get there!

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Carl, Ramon and Keith are holding the sections level while the cross braces get put on. This bridge is make out of an old FAA Radio Beacon Tower. We have added the three pipes along the face to make a "roadway." It is all very sturdy, all metal construction.

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The braces between the sections are getting tightened.

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Carl dares to try it. It works fine, except there are no approach ramps to it.

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Here comes Keith now. The spacing is perfect for ATV's; 33 inches center-to-center. It looks spooky, but actually it is quite comfortable to use.

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Keith shows how perfectly the bridge spacing is. However, he is devoting his full concentration to it. If you fall into this Creek, you are toast.

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As we packed up to go home, darkness is a sunset view from Brakes Bottom. Alaska is a beautiful place.

  Narrative Copyright © 2003 Ramon Gandia