Quinault River overtaking Enchanted Valley Chalet
The Olympic National Park reports that as of last week, a four-foot section of the Enchanted Valley Chalet is now hanging over the bank of the upper Quinault River. Officials say that winter storms and high flows have shifted the Quinault by at least 15 feet in the past three months.
Park officials said there is little they can do to protect the 84-year-old structure against the forces of nature because of its remote location.
“Within what is technically and economically feasible, we continue to do our very best to protect the area’s natural and cultural resources and its wilderness character,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum, “Our options are limited, however, given the size and force of the river and the valley’s remote location within the Olympic wilderness.”
A crew assessed and documented the Chalet’s condition and removed equipment, supplies and any hazardous materials. The building’s windows were also removed to both prevent glass from impacting the river and downstream natural resources and to preserve elements of the historic building.
“We understand that the Chalet occupies an important place in the history of this area, and we know that people hold deep regard and affection for the building,” said Creachbaum. “We invite anyone who’d like to share photos or memories of the Chalet to post them on our Olympic National Park Facebook page.”
“It’s a very difficult situation because it’s a beautiful old building,” park spokeswoman Barb Maynes said in an interview to the Peninsula Daily News.
Park officials say it’s not simple to just move the building.
“What we’ve learned is there aren’t any ways that are technically or economically feasible to protect the chalet in the long term,” Maynes said.
“If there was unlimited funding, and if we were talking about a building that was in a road access area, then we’d have a greater number of options.”
Reinforcing the river bank or redirecting the main channel would be problematic, too, because of the impacts to fish habitat and natural resources, Maynes said.
Jeff Monroe, owner of Carlsborg-based Monroe House Moving, has reached out to park officials about moving the chalet, saying that it would take about $40,000 plus six helicopter trips to accomplish the feat in one week, he said.
Located 13 miles up trail from the Graves Creek trailhead in Quinault Valley, the chalet was build by Quinault Valley residents in the early 1930s, prior to establishment of Olympic National Park. It served as a lodge for hikers and horse riders until the early 1940s.