Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Barge: Forty Years of Serving the Stehekin Community

Early morning Launch from Chelan Docking Site--Stehekin Bound!
Steadily churning on the waters of Lake Chelan, in all kinds of weather and conditions during any season you can find a 30 by 80 steel barge laden with freight bound for Stehekin and all points thereof. Locally known as “The Barge” this well known craft carries a you-name-it menagerie of supplies to the ports of Chelan, Stehekin, Lucerne, and many private homeowners and remote cabins along Lake Chelan. Founded by Tom Courtney of Stehekin and serving the area since 1977, the barge service is an essential part of all aspects of community life in our valley.

Fuels for our cars and trucks and machinery, stacks of lumber and logs for our homes and buildings, vehicles that take up half of the deck or just a small corner, animals of all kinds and their precious hay and feed, the list is as varied as the customer. Moving vans, pallets of flour for the Stehekin Pastry Company, gravel for special projects, trailers tractors and canoes--anything that is too large for the passenger boat arrives in Stehekin from a 55 mile full day trip up Lake Chelan, powered by a 50 foot work boat with two 671 Detroit  engines.

The barge arrival means anticipated supplies have arrived and it’s time to get to work! You may see the unloading process taking place at the Stehekin Landing with boom trucks, trailers, rolling vehicles and two legged delivery to valley residents eager to get on with their projects or ready to drive a new (usually used!) rig home. Summer influx of seasonal workers and tourists means many full barges in the spring and fall.Fire season brings unexpected all night trips.
Gravel and Excavator bound for special project

The crew of Mountain Barge Services LLC is dedicated to accommodate all kinds of projects along the shore of Lake Chelan such as dock work, buoy setting, propane delivery,and even fire fighting emergency work. On July fourth, look under the exploding fireworks in Chelan and Manson and find the barge crew sporting the event, keeping the deck as a launch site steadily in place.
Fireworks launch from barge deck Manson Bay


You might find it strange to know that even Stehekin’s trash is transported down the lake via this vessel. Or, in the spring, you might see the arrival of the pack trip horses for Stehekin Outfitters.  At one point you would have watched an 85 ton crane rolling off the barge to help construct Harlequin Bridge.  There are countless stories of storms, a missing pig upon arrival, a horse jumping overboard to get to shore faster….all in a day’s, or make that three day’s work considering the full spectrum of loading, unloading and return trip. 

Tom will tell you his business has been challenging, with never a dull moment, but enjoyable. With new plans ahead, Tom says it’s good to expand, provide more jobs, and that no business survives without changing and adapting.  There is plenty to relate about Tom’s life work that has made Mountain Barge Services operate smoothly, along with his son Reed's dedicated management and an excellent support crew.
Fair weather journey!
New plans are unfolding including a new warehouse at 41 Anderson Rd, Chelan, as well as a new office location at the same address. A weekly barge is a welcome addition to Stehekin’s residents.

Thank you Mountain Barge Service for forty years of dedicated, essential service to Stehekin!


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