Hole in the culvert

The Hole That Started it All

This last workday began long before volunteers picked up hammers on February 23rd.  Planning began in September 2012 after a Grand View Trail hiker and NMRTA member, reported a 5-inch hole in the trail immediately over a wooden culvert.  It wasn’t big, but it was dangerous to hikers.

The wooden culverts, built to allow rain water to flow under the rail beds, were built by railroad workers over 100 years ago which makes them archeologically significant, so NMRTA couldn’t just hammer new boards on.  After considerable review, inspections, and collaboration, the Forest Service allowed NMRTA to proceed with replacing the culvert due to it’s overall deterioration…as long as the replacement was identical to the original.

With that requirement in mind, NMRTA special ordered about 150 feet of 3 inch x 12 inch treated lumber and over 200 six inch nails.  After delivery, handy NMRTA volunteers pre-cut the lumber.  Two days before the workday, two volunteers braved the cold and frozen ground to deliver the lumber, dig up the culvert, and prepare the trench to accept the new culvert.  The loan of a Forest Service Bobcat made the task so much easier.

On the workday, eight volunteer trail workers met at 8 a.m. at the lower trail head of the Grand View Trail.  They made their way up-trail a quarter mile or so to the work site, accompanied by  two pickups with tools and supplies.  Talk about a neck ache!  The pickup drivers had to back up over half the distance  due to limited turn-around opportunities on the  narrow railroad bed.

Hammering and more hammering

Working on Those Arm Muscles

The trail workers arrived at a very big trench and a pile of cut wood.  Construction should have been simple.  After all a culvert is basically a big, heavy box.  However, it was too heavy to build in one piece so construction began with building one-half of the bottom and sides.  That assembly, weighing about 300 lb, was inverted and set into the trench.   After the second half was assembled and set into the trench, the two halves were spliced together and the roof pieces nailed into place.  Yep, they brought out the big hammers to drive the 6-in. nails.  In between all the cutting and hammering, a volunteer drenched the fresh cuts with a wood preservative.  There were some sore shoulders by the time the last nail went in.   Lastly, the handy, dandy Bobcat was used to cover the new culvert.

Tired but happy volunteers

Tired But Happy Volunteers

And while the culvert construction was taking place, one volunteer was back at the entrance treating the entire stile with wood preservative.

By 12:15 pm, all work had been completed, the workers had returned to their cars  and the Bobcat re-loaded on to its trailer.  It had been a good workday.  Cost of materials…less than $1000.  Cost of manual labor from generous volunteers…priceless.

The trail is ready to be trod on so come on out to Grand View Trail and walk all over our work.