Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum walks across a new bridge on the Spruce Railroad Trail abutting the recently renovated Daley-Rankin Tunnel at the start of a ceremony on Thursday to celebrate the soon-to-be-open trail on the north shore of Lake Crescent. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum walks across a new bridge on the Spruce Railroad Trail abutting the recently renovated Daley-Rankin Tunnel at the start of a ceremony on Thursday to celebrate the soon-to-be-open trail on the north shore of Lake Crescent. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Soon the be open: Spruce Railroad trail refurbished

Ribbon-cutting anticipates public access

The smell of fresh asphalt lingered in the air and fish nibbled along the surface of Lake Crescent as representatives from Olympic National Park, Clallam County, the state Recreation and Conservation Office and the Peninsula Trails Coalition spoke at a small, socially-distanced ribbon cutting ceremony for the Spruce Railroad Trail.

The Oct. 29 ceremony did not open the trail to the public, however, as work continues on the nearly-completed renovated pathway.

The work is expected to be open for use sometime after the middle of November, according to Penny Wagner, Olympic National Park spokesperson.

Some paving and other construction-related activities are yet to be completed and some sections are not yet safe for public use, she said.

Jeff Bohman, president of the Peninsula Trails Coialition, speaks during Thursday’s dedication ceremony for the new-renovated Daley-Rankin Tunnel and Spruce Railroad Trail. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Jeff Bohman, president of the Peninsula Trails Coialition, speaks during Thursday’s dedication ceremony for the new-renovated Daley-Rankin Tunnel and Spruce Railroad Trail. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

The result of public participation, private enterprise and governmental cooperation at the county, state and federal levels, Thursday’s ceremony celebrated the final phase of a multi-year project to revamp and improve accessibility along the former Spruce Railroad grade by creating a paved, multi-purpose trail to be shared by hikers, cyclists, equestrians and those traveling in wheelchairs.

The trail near Lake Crescent follows the historic railroad grade of the Spruce Railroad, which was completed in November of 1918 and abandoned in 1951.

With the newly restored Daley Rankin Tunnel serving as the backdrop for the ceremony, ONP Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum discussed getting an earful from former clallam county commissioner Mike Doherty on one of her first days on the job in Port Angeles, nearly eight years to the day.

Dedication ceremony guests examine the underside of a new bridge on the Spruce Railroad Trail on Thursday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Dedication ceremony guests examine the underside of a new bridge on the Spruce Railroad Trail on Thursday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

“In walks Rich James, (former Clallam County Transportation Program Manager) the engineer, and commissioner Doherty,” Creachbaum said. “And commissioner Doherty was not happy with me. And anybody who knows commissioner Doherty knows that is not a good place to be, to have Mike be unhappy with you.

“They were unhappy because there hadn’t been enough movement on getting some contracting done for what they described to me as the Spruce Railroad Trail,” she said.

“Fast-forward eight years and to be able to stand here and see the finished project and celebrate it with all of our partners is an extraordinary experience for me.”

Creachbaum joked that park superintendents “don’t do anything.”

“We kind of lay the groundwork so things can happen, but we don’t actually go out and do it. The doer in this case is our engineer, Lisa Turecek, the person with the Park Service who really represents this project,” Creachbaum said.

“She has tirelessly promoted it and ensured that it would always continue. She and I have been aligned on this goal since she first came to the park. It is our shared vision, so that is pretty darn exciting.”

Clallam County Commissioner Bill Peach directed thanks toward all involved on the project while speaking for past and present colleagues.

“I stand on the shoulders of commissioners like Mike Doherty that really, really advocated for this project, as well as the staff,” Peach said.

“On behalf of commissioner Mark Ozias, commissioner Randy Johnson and myself, we sincerely say thank you to everybody that worked very hard on this, the list is extremely long.”

A paved trail runs through the newly-reopened Daley-Rankin Tunnel on the north shore of Lake Crescent. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

A paved trail runs through the newly-reopened Daley-Rankin Tunnel on the north shore of Lake Crescent. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Peach also drew laughs when he commented on the gorgeous setting for the event.

“It’s beautiful today, and if you aren’t experiencing something that is wonderful, I’m not sure there’s much hope for you,” Peach said. “It’s wonderful to be out here. I’d like to recognize mayor (Tim) Fletcher from Forks. The trail is headed your way, sir. And it’s because of all the hard work of the folks that are here. And to all of you, thank you.”

James outlined the origins of the Spruce Railroad Trail project dating back to 2008 and expressed gratitude that Creachbaum quickly recognized what the trail could become for the park and county.

“The main thing she did early on was she accepted the county’s vision, and by county I mean all the people in the county had a vision of what this trail could be and how it could be a transportation corridor that would go from one end to the other, the Olympic Discovery Trail,” James said.

Lisa Turecek, facilities manager for Olympic National Park, and Rich James, former Clallam County Transportation Program Manager, wield ceremonial scissors to cut a ribbon to dedicate a reworked and refurbished Spruce Railroad Trail on the north shore of Lake Crescent on Thursday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Lisa Turecek, facilities manager for Olympic National Park, and Rich James, former Clallam County Transportation Program Manager, wield ceremonial scissors to cut a ribbon to dedicate a reworked and refurbished Spruce Railroad Trail on the north shore of Lake Crescent on Thursday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

When opened to the public, the Spruce Railroad Trail will become part of the 134-mile Olympic Discovery Trail, which when complete, will stretch the width of the North Olympic Peninsula from Port Townsend to La Push.

James also praised the park deputy superintendent Lee Taylor and Turecek for their contributions in securing grant funding.

“I think the first year we scored No. 1 in the state (with the Recreation and Conservation Office) was the year (Taylor) came with us. It was so impressive to have a deputy superintendent there, that committee had never seen that kind of support.

“And Lisa is a grant-funding wizard … Almost half of the match money that came for this project came from her efforts.”

James also said he appreciated the support from past and current county commissioners.

“It takes a lot of political willpower to do something like this over that span of time,” James said.

James described the rare use of county road funds to boost a trail project and thanked thousands of trail volunteers and supporters who wrote letters, attending public meetings and put in sweat equity working on the trail itself.

More in Sports

Community scoreboard — Nov. 25, 2020

Golf The Cedars at Dungeness • Men’s Club, Stableford Competition, Nov. 11… Continue reading

x
PREP SPORTS: WIAA pushes back prep seasons

The return of high school sports will be delayed by at least… Continue reading

x
Sequim duo in good company

Sequim seniors Natalya James and Amara Sayer will bring more of the… Continue reading

Peninsula's Davien Harris-Williams prepares to pass as Bellevue's Tijohn Rodde defends the lane in a February NWAC match-up. Peninsula College student-athletes gained an eligibility waiver for this season because of the effects of the COIVD-19 pandemic on NWAC sports seasons. File photo by Keith Thorpe/Olympic Peninsula News Group
College athletics: NWAC gives student-athletes eligibility waivers

The Northwest Athletic Conference Executive Board voted to not charge NWAC student-athletes… Continue reading

Sports briefs — Nov. 18, 2020

Pros, amateurs tee it up at The Cedars With the COVID-19 pandemic… Continue reading

Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum walks across a new bridge on the Spruce Railroad Trail abutting the recently renovated Daley-Rankin Tunnel at the start of a ceremony on Oct. 29 to celebrate the soon-to-be-open trail on the north shore of Lake Crescent. Photo by Keith Thorpe/Olympic Peninsula News Group
Soon the be open: Spruce Railroad trail refurbished

Ribbon-cutting anticipates public access

The Frosty Moss Relay is being held Feb. 27 from the Sol Duc River to Blyn.
ADVENTURE SPORTS: Registration open for Frosty Moss Relay

Registration is open for teams running in the Frosty Moss Relay on… Continue reading

Community scoreboard — Nov. 11, 2020

Golf The Cedars at Dungeness • Men’s Club, Individual Stroke Play, Nov.… Continue reading

Lincoln Park track back racing

Prep sports may not be returning to the North Olympic Peninsula for… Continue reading

Community scoreboard — Nov. 4, 2020

Golf Sunland Golf/Country Club • Men’s Club, Skins Game, Oct. 28 Gross:… Continue reading

x
Sequim students earn black belts, advancements

Six students from Sequim’s Bodystrong Taekwon-do recently tested for, and earned, advancements… Continue reading

State Parks announces winter camping, day-use schedule

Washington State Parks announced on Oct. 13 its 2020-21 winter schedule, with… Continue reading