Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Speaking of the past....

"It's a flat belt pulley," he says, his enthusiasm picking up.
To me it is a cool-looking relic that we cannot part with. The rust has been gathering for decades on this silent shape in our old shop.
"Look at the outer band. It tapers."
I look and yes, I see it is curved, not flat.
"That's called a crown and it kept the belt centered while turning." So now simple laws of physics are coming into play and this is his world.  Now I see it turning, and a belt going around the outside, and yes, not slipping off either side. Simple, but amazing.

"Look at the spokes. The whole piece was cast at one time. The spokes were curved on purpose so that once the iron cooled the spokes would not break."
Now I can see the graceful curves that attach to the outer band are more than eye pleasing. They are practical.
"What was it used for?" My mind is searching for something in Stehekin that would have such a pulley turning, whirring, smoothly, quietly. Maybe not quietly.
"Might have been part of a sawmill...." he offers.
Courtney sawmill in operation in Stehekin  (Photo Credit~Rene Courtney)
The Courtney sawmill was in operation clear up until our timbers for our home were milled twenty years ago. Another story. This pulley is much older...

"Or it might have been off a planer," he adds, pondering. 

"Or a drag saw?"

(Obviously not a Stehekin photo..but notice the pulleys!)

All we know for sure is, here it is in our old shop not saying a word, full of history, and Stehekin history at that. Something was progressing, though. Something was being built or made with it. Something to put faith in for the future. A cabin? A barn? A fence? A cellar?

"People think we are so advanced," he says. "But look at this crafted piece. It's simple but intelligent, and practical." It's where he lives.

While I have his attention, we tour the corners and talk about these scattered stories. An era and lifestyle speaks clearly in forms that were once used every day. I can imagine the excitement of ordering  and receiving them off the boat or barge, knowing you were getting "the best" for the times.
A vice for sharpening tools


A large "block" hiding in my Iris bed...what huge things did it help lift?
Old first aid box...did it get used? 

And, the endless hand work "inside" the iron for the wood stove top

There is still plenty of hand and backbone challenging work in Stehekin...

Our "up to date" tools
  Each memento could take hours of time just thinking about. And there are plenty more. For now, it's time to get back to work and our short tour ends. He puts his ear plugs in and starts up the roaring chainsaw.
Simple, practical and beautiful, too. Stehekin, past and present, speaking volumes. l.c.