Salmon la Sac Picnic Shelter Restoration 

Partnering to save a historic structure and train new volunteers in traditional woodworking techniques 

In September of 2020, the Greenway Trust partnered with the USFS Cle Elum Ranger District and the Cascadian Log School to save a historic picnic shelter at Salmon la Sac campground from demolition. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1936, the picnic shelter was withstood 84 years of rain, snow, and insect activity. Generations of Kittitas County residents and visitors cooked meals in its stone oven, camped under its cedar-shake roof during poor weather, and sat cross-legged on its floor at movie nights hosted by Forest Rangers. However, in 2016, the USFS deemed the shelter unsafe, and closed it to the public

When buildings are determined ‘surplus’ to USFS needs, they’re most often left to fall apart, or preemptively torn down. Costs of repairs are so high, qualified craftspeople so few and far between, and the demands on the agency’s limited resources so numerous, that historic building restoration just isn’t a high priority. By collaborating with the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, the Cle Elum Ranger District was able to acquire the funds and project management needed to revitalize the Salmon la Sac shelter. We hired David Rogers, of the Cascadian Log School, a highly skilled craftsman with an extensive professional background in restoring and rehabilitating log structures on National Forest, National Park, state, and tribal lands.  

Recognizing that David’s skills are a disappearing art, The Greenway Trust organized a five-day workshop coinciding with the picnic shelter repairs, where a small group of committed volunteers would build a kiosk from scratch using the same techniques the CCC employed on the picnic shelter. David introduced these volunteers to the principles and techniques of building with logs, from designing and laying out each unique log to the delicate art of shaping a notch by scribe, axe, and mallet and gouge. 

COVID-19 and smoke conditions turned a one-week project into two weeks spread between 2020 and 2021. The restored Salmon la Sac picnic shelter stands ready to provide shade, rain cover, and a warm fireplace to visitors, and the brand new kiosk shaped by volunteers and Greenway trail crews will share the area’s history.  


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