Logger icons get gazebo shelter at museum

Scott Swanson

By Scott Swanson

Of The New Era

Robin Miller knelt on the ground in the yard west of East Linn Museum last week, twisting wires together.

He was putting the finishing touches – lights – on a gazebo shelter that he and others started working on a month ago. Their goal is to protect the wood carving of loggers that Miller and Mike Melcher erected in October 2018 outside the museum in the triangle of land formed by Long Street, Holley Road (Highway 228) and Main Street (Highway 20).

The two decided that they wanted to erect a wood carving honoring Sweet Home’s logging heritage and went to the Reedsport Wood Carving Festival to scout talent, settling on artist Jessee Strack of Whidbey Island, Wash., who carved the loggers.

“We picked out one guy out of about 40,” Miller said. “We looked at his work. He did a good job on these men.”

The uniquely shaped tree they stand on, on springboards with a crosscut saw, was harvested off Miller’s tree farm.

In the four years since, the chainsaw carving has begun deteriorating in the Oregon weather, but nobody has really been taking care of the statue.

The two raised the issue with the city two years ago, Melcher telling the City Council in September of 2020, “I’ve been watching this thing for two years now, and the weather is hard on it. I don’t think it will last a hundred years going on like this.”

The hangup, Miller said, was because the Oregon Department of Transportation until recently owned that slice of land, which used to be a public right-of-way in the form of Holley Street.

Ownership of the parcel was transferred to the museum last winter, which was key to protecting the statue, Miller said. He said he went to City Hall two years ago to try to find a solution.

“They finally came up with a solution last winter and got the Department of Transportation to deed this to the museum. So they were able to give me a permit to do this. It just took a lot of jumping up and down.

The 14-by-14-foot gazebo, supported by 8-by-8-foot posts, rises some 20 feet above the display.

Miller provided the wood for the structure and members of the community have contributed financial donations for hardware and the metal roof, he said.

He’s done most of the work on the structure, though Melcher was lending a hand last week and Ron Wolfe helped him cut the “tricky” angles for rafters to support the gazebo’s hip roof.

“I probably could have done it, but I’ve been stumbling through it,” said Miller, who’s 82. “It was nice to have somebody to help.”

Since the land now belongs to the museum, said Blair Larsen, city community development director, maintenance will be the responsibility of the museum, though the city has an agreement to maintain a small slice of right-of-way retained by ODOT next to Highway 228.

Miller said members of the public have stopped by to voice support for the project, for which he doesn’t have a total cost yet.

“Everybody likes it. Everybody’s come by and they’ll walk over here. I had a guy who stopped by today and thanked me.”

“I just hated to see this go back to nature.”