[BY S. SALMI]
The National Park Service is renovating the Kestner homestead, but one item is being left to nature’s whims — an early-1940s Chevrolet panel truck once used in a moving business.
The truck is among the newer contraptions on the homestead, which Anton Kestner began to carve out of an Olympic Peninsula rainforest in 1889.
Yet the Chevy displays a haunting quality. That’s partly due to the truck’s menacing eyeless grin. And the surreal way a bush has taken up residence in the cab.
Perhaps it is also easier to imagine driving a truck than the horse-drawn hay cutter on the right. Picture the Chevy grinding through the gears on the lonely mountain roads of the Olympics.
What led to the truck’s final park? A blown engine? Business gone bad due to a fragile economy in northern Grays Harbor County?
We can reflect on the past because local residents and Kestner descendants called for the homestead’s renovation. The Park Service considered bulldozing the buildings until they held a meeting. Roughly one hundred people reportedly showed up. That’s a huge crowd for the rural area, which doesn’t have a traffic light, let alone a bank.
The Kestner homestead is located a few miles off Highway 101 on the north shore of Lake Quinault — the gateway to the western side of the Olympic National Park (directions here).
Drive a few more hours and you’ll reach the northwestern tip of the continental United States. It’s a beautiful trip, but you may also find it worth your while to linger at the Kestner homestead.
Plan to show up outside of tourist season and during a work day when virtually no one else will be around. Be sure to take a moment to sit on the front porch of the Kestner home. Soak in the stillness of the place.
Then walk around the Chevy. Note that the tires still look good enough to drive away on. You can almost hear the engine firing up again.
ALL OUR SOURCES:
- Olympic National Park (visiting Quinault; directions; hikes and trails)
- Author’s photo gallery: “Still motion: An old Chevy truck”
PHOTOS: Olympia, Earth Images