I took a lot of photos during my two weeks as a volunteer for HistoriCorps at the Soderberg Bunkhouse. Many didn’t fit into articles I wrote about volunteering and about my experience. So, you know what that means? It’s time for another photo essay. These are non-duplicative photos from the previous Soderberg Bunkhouse and HistoriCorps posts (listed at bottom).

Plus, there was one particularly dramatic moment during the two weeks that was funny and not funny. Of course, I had to find a place to share that story as well.

Soderberg Bunkhouse

After two weeks of scrapping old mortar out, the crew began the process of squishing new mortar in between each stone. From this view, you can really see how the Soderberg Bunkhouse is built in the side of a hill.
Old stone house on a hill. Straight on shot of house with door and two windows which are boarded up.
The front of the Soderberg Bunkhouse. It looks so different from the back. Houses on hills, where one side is a much different height than the other, was a first for me. The road we walked up arrived at the back door. So, unless we were working on this side of the house, it wasn’t our view most of the time. But it is pretty isn’t it? If you look closely at the stones, you’ll see the old mortar has been carved out.

Doors at Soderberg Bunkhouse

Closeup of one side of a stone house , the Soderberg Bunkhouse, with a hefty metal dor.
The backside of the Soderberg Bunkhouse after much of the work has been done. Notice the scaffolding is gone and there is pretty new mortar between the stones. If the door looks a little extreme for a simple bunkhouse that’s because it is. It came from a bank vault in town after it was no longer needed. You cannot see it well in this photo but there are five round dents (yep, bullets).
A closeup on a tiny (about 18 inches square) wooden door next to the regular door of a stone house.
A mini-door for mountain fairies?

In addition to mortar work, there were a few wood tasks related to the restoration including this fairy door. Here is the original. In the photo above, you can see it was removed and reframed. Before the end of the project, the crew built a new little door. At first we thought it was a dog door but realized that probably wasn’t a thing back then.

We ended up deciding it was a door to pass wood and coal through in the winter without having to leave the big door open and lose all that heat. If you have an idea or confirmation of our theory, would love to hear it.

Other Soderberg Ranch Buildings

Looking through a missing section of fence to an old barn. Dry wild grass in between.
Even though we were there to do stone work, I have to say I just loved the old barn. Something so beautiful about the worn weathered wood. Part of the fence is missing but that was true of all the fencing and rock walls I saw. The first two photos in the next section were found in this building.
A small old stone building partially hidden by green trees. A wooden fence is in the foreground.
You can tell by the familiar stones that this is another Soderberg Ranch building but I never learned which building.
Remains of an old wooden horse corral against a blue sky and with yellow brush flowers in foreground.
We passed this each morning on the walk to the Soderberg Bunkhouse. It’s the remnants of a corral. The tall thing on the left was part of a shoot. What I couldn’t figure out was why it angled up. The only thing I could think was that trailers backed up to where it says “Soderberg” then the horses stepped right in.
Same as previous photo but wider view.
You can see the shoot better in this shot from my first day walking up to the Soderberg Bunkhouse.

Finds Inside and Near the Out Buildings

I just love random bits of things left behind. They are like an archeologic treasure. Here are a few things I came across.

A small old almost entirely rusted can of furniture enamel. It sits in thick dust.
I found this in the wooden barn. Can you see the years and years of dust? It’s a can of furniture enamel. You can tell by the extensive rust, it has been sitting there a long time.
Metal things handing from big nails pounded into an old piece of wood. (Don't know what they are.)
I found these inside the wooden barn. They intrigued me though I had no idea what they are or what they would have been used for. Do you know?
Two old rusted horseshoes sitting on a piece of aged worn wood.
A great find. Two old horseshoes. Photo courtesy of my fellow volunteer Krista.

Horsetooth Reservoir

Large lake (reservoir) with hills, greenery and yellow fowlers in the foreground.
This is the main long section of the water, not the drained Inlet Bay where I stayed. I stopped and got this shot when I was returning from the weekend in between.

At the Campsite

Blue 2020 Volunteer Parking Pass (close up) placed under the windshield wiper on car window.
Parking pass from Horsetooth Reservoir during our time working on the Soderberg Bunkhouse project. It probably belonged inside the van’s window but this worked too.
A table set up outside a large canvas tent with three white tubs and two dish drainers. A container of bleach sits under the table.
Handwashing (orange buckets on left) and dish washing station. We boiled water for the first two tubs. The first was filled with soap and water while the second was filled for rinse water. The final tub was water with one cap full of bleach to disinfect the dishes. Then they went to the drying racks.

The Crews

My First Week at Soderberg Bunkhouse

Group of six people standing and smiling in front of a large canvas ten with the doors open.
Session 2 crew in front of the cook tent.

From left to right:

  • Porter, who just finished graduate school in architecture and historic preservation. Just before he arrived from Texas, he got a job offer in upstate New York.
  • Daniel, from Chicago, Crew Leader and Camp Cook who came to HistoriCorps several years ago after a year in the Peace Corp.
  • Raphael, Rafe for short, is from France though lived only a few blocks from the worksite. As a result, he didn’t join us for meals as he came from home each day. The follow week, he volunteered with Habitat for Humanity.
  • Our Project Leader, Cathy, came from Boise, Idaho where she runs her own business. She loves HistoriCorps so works on one or two projects a season.
  • Septuagenarian Cherokee Indian Bobbie Jo sported a mohawk and a wicked sense of humor. He said he traded an addiction to pills for an addiction to HistoriCorps and has become a volunteer superstar. He volunteers four to five months each year and has done so for about 10 years.
  • Nineteen year old Gus drove three days from Jacksonville, Florida to volunteer. He was the youngest member of the crew and looked forward to voting in his first election. Because of COVID, he decided to take a gap year but next fall he’ll start at Yale.

My Second Week at Soderberg Bunkhouse

Group of people sitting under a tree.
Session 3 crew under a tree behind the cook tent to enjoy the shade. The photo we took that included me, we had our masks on so you couldn’t see people’s faces.

From left to right:

  • Krista is from nearby. She used her week off from work to volunteer.
  • Melissa is from Long Beach, Washington. You might remember I spent a month there. She used her several HistoriCorps assignments to check out different areas of Colorado with the idea of moving there.
  • Cathy.
  • Bobbie Jo.
  • Daniel.
  • Stephen, a recent transplant to Utah from Arkansas and semi-retired, hoped to fully retire to spend time working with his hands and working outdoors. HistoriCorps was a perfect match.
Yellow dog sitting on a rock, his head turned to face the camera.
Dante, Daniel’s puppy and my buddy.

Big Drama

You’ve seen the movie Wizard of Oz? Of course you have. Well, the big drama was a little like that.

Wednesday. Session 3. I was working in my trailer in the afternoon when a big random gust of wind swirled around me. A second later, I saw a bunch of color go by the window, including the big round red lid from the top of our trash can.

Great, I thought. The garbage can tipped over and all that color was garbage. I got up and went outside to discover something very different.

That single momentary gust was so powerful, it created havoc at our site. The most dramatic being–and this is so weird it is almost unbelievable–Daniel’s large staked tent was picked up (lead lines snapped), all the contents (a cot, a camp chair, dog bed, sleeping gear, clothes, electronics, and more) dumped out and then, the empty tent, like a kite, floated up high in the sky and then came down. In a tree. Very high up in a very tall tree.

I didn’t see the tent flying, I only saw all the contents as they whizzed by the window of my trailer. But neighbor’s on both sides of our sites did and described it to me. They also, very kindly, helped pick up scatters items for about 15 minutes until we had it all in piles back at our campsite.

It’s lucky I was there as Kitchen Helper and not up at the worksite. Or it would’ve been hours before anyone knew what happened.

We found Daniel’s keys a day later.

Long-time rangers came by to help figure out how to retrieve the tent from the tree. They said they’d never seen anything like it. Apparently, a tent in a tree was a first for them.

After much debate and weighing different options, the rangers decided they’d come the next day and cut the tree down. But in the end and against ranger advice, Daniel used a tall ladder from the construction site and his rock climbing gear to reach the tent. Of course, it proved trashed and unusable but, at least it was no longer in the tree.

Giant trees with lots of green leaves. At the top, among the branches, is a tent.
You don’t have perspective here but believe me when I say the tree was tall. See the orange and blue tent near the top?
A large canvas dirty-white tent, trees in the background. In the foreground are piles of clothes, two tables with dish drying racks and three white tubs sitting on them.
See the slack lead lines of the cook tent? And notice the canvas has moved about a foot up on the frame? How is that even possible? The piles in the front are some of what other campers helped me gather of the items dumped out of Daniel’s tent. The dish washing station ended up scattered in the road and the tables dumped over but, here, I have it mostly put back together.

Inside the cook tent was also a mess. The table at the front we use to serve food was upside down and at the back of the tent. Weirdly, the big trash can was inside the tent and it didn’t tip over though, somehow, the lid came off and flew past my trailer. The only thing we never found was the stem of the percolator so we had reheated coffee on the two remaining days of the week.

The back side of a large dirty-white canvas tent. It's off center. It's set up at a campsite with trees in the background.
The solid cook tent with six lead lines on both sides, all staked down tight before the gust. This is what it looked like from behind after. It shifted, the entire canvas moving on the frame moved about a foot. What you cannot tell from this photo is that the entire left side of the frame shifted forward more than a foot.

Weekend In Between Soderberg Bunkhouse Work

Between my sophomore and junior year of college, I worked on a ranch in Cody, Wyoming. A woman I met there, Gail, and I have kept in touch over the years. We saw each other once when I lived in San Diego after graduating college. And that was the last time.

We connected again through social media and guess where she lives? Fort Collins. So, after 30 years we saw each other again. She came to the KOA where I stayed in between Sessions 2 and 3 to pick me up. Then found us this wonderful spot by a river for a picnic. We talked for six hours with hardly a breath in between. What a fantastic bonus to my Soderberg Bunkhouse and HistoriCorps experience.

We vowed to not let another 30 years go by before we get together again.

Picnic lunch with a cooler and a little table, two chairs on either side with a person in one. The view is of lots of green trees and a river.
She made an amazing tomato tart. I ate two big pieces.

Links to Other Soderberg Bunkhouse Related Posts:

To see products recently purchased by readers or to browse and shop at Amazon, follow either of these links. Huge thanks for your support.

Affiliate Link Disclosure. As a result of being an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.