Volunteers Working on Restoring Station Beginning Monday

The La Wis Wis Forest Service Station sits unoccupied while under restoration on Thursday morning at the La Wis Wis Campground five miles east of Packwood.

The La Wis Wis Forest Service Station sits unoccupied while under restoration on Thursday morning at the La Wis Wis Campground five miles east of Packwood.

Volunteers at the La Wis Wis Campground east of Packwood will soon continue on-site work for a multi-year restoration project to the historic guard station at the recreation area.

While the opportunity to volunteer on the project has closed, interested people are invited to visit the 78-year-old guard station to witness the rehabilitation in person and celebrate the National Historic Preservation Act’s 50th anniversary.

The site will be open to the public 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m.-noon on Friday.

The La Wis Wis Forest Service Station sits unoccupied while under restoration on Thursday morning at the La Wis Wis Campground five miles east of Packwood.

The La Wis Wis Forest Service Station sits unoccupied while under restoration on Thursday morning at the La Wis Wis Campground five miles east of Packwood.

The guard station is located at the La Wis Wis Campground 7 miles east of Packwood on U.S. Highway 12. Staff and volunteers will be available to share information about the guard station and the history of the area, according to a press release from the U.S. Forest Service.

During this second session of phase for restoration, crews will be installing plumbing fixtures, wall paneling and insulation, as well as landscaping, according to the Passport-in-Time project website, of which the rehabilitation of the guard station is a part.

“I appreciate the dedicated volunteers who have worked to put the guard station back into use for future public visitation and enjoyment,” Cowlitz Valley District Ranger Gar Abbas said in the release.

The Ohanapecosh River, west of La Wis Wis Friday morning, June 5, 2015

The Ohanapecosh River, west of La Wis Wis
Friday morning, June 5, 2015

The 25- by 32-foot guard station was built in 1937 as a Civilian Conservation Corps work project. The work relief program for unemployed, unmarried men ran from 1933 to 1942 as part of the New Deal.

In 1933, 200 men moved into a camp in Packwood for the program, completing many projects in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, according to Forest Service website.

The station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. It is one of only two structures of its design in the Pacific Northwest and has “distinctive characteristics of Northwest rustic style, typical of Forest Service, Depression-era architecture,” Passport-in-Time’s website states.

“La Wis Wis Guard Station is a rare example of Civilian Conservation Corps architecture, and saving the historical building from previous deterioration is very important for preserving the history of the forest,” Abbas said.

The guard station with a tall gable roof and exterior stone chimney was used by the Forest Service until 1993. Since then it has been neglected and water has damaged the building.

The project began in 2012 with work to the guard station’s roof, floor and foundation. The following year, old wiring and plumbing was removed along with the damaged, original pine wall paneling.

The paneling was restored during the first session this summer May 4-8.

The White Pass Country Museum and Historical Society, along with local businesses and the Cowlitz Valley Ranger District, are making the restoration a reality with volunteers, funds and material donations.

By Kaylee Osowski / kosowski@chronline.com