Notes from Windward: #71

Stone Culvert

making use of what we've got


     This last month of winter has been quite rainy. We've had some beautiful days, for sure, but lots of cold, rainy days too. Since our ground is fully saturated, any bit of serious rain results in considerable run off which keeps our seasonal creek making lots of happy water sounds.

the run-off in Mail-box Canyon

     What wouldn't be happy at all would be if this run-off were to undercut the new entrance we're building.

     The embankment was built up when the county was improving the road that runs along our eastern boundary. They were looking for a nearby place to dump a lot of dirt, and that provided a way to get a good start on creating a new entrance. I got cracking and was able to find a few lengths of 24" diameter concrete culvert, and get them hauled home before the county trucks needed to start dumping. Building up the road bed, my feeling was "the higher, the better" but as the berm grew taller, the base grew wider, to the point where the ends of culvert were almost covered up.

the almost-lost culvert

     In order to help ensure that the dirt didn't fall and close off the culvert, we made a temporary fix by laying a length of 12" culvert into the stream bed. It's hard to see in the above picture, but it's there acting to funnel water into the larger culvert.

clearing away around the culvert

     When our neighbor George came over to retreive his trackhoe, we took advantage of that opportunity to do some shoring up of the dirt to either side of the main culvert. In the above pic, you can see a couple of feet of the smaller 12" culvert sticking out of the larger 24" culvert. The trackhoe had shoved the smaller culvert into the larger in hopes that it would float on through and come out the other side, but that wasn't to be. Since it was out of the way enough, we just got on with the process of digging out the spaces where we wanted the shoring rocks to go.

bringing over the "little" rock

     The trackhoe handled the first rock easily enough. It's exciting to watch a piece of equipment big enough to easily move a rock weighing more than two tons. From the picture, it's hard to appreciate just how big that rock was; for scale, you can note the culvert's two-foot wide mouth just to the right of it.

the first rock in place

     The next rock was even larger, and not so easy to get a grip on. The massive mouth of the trackhoe's bucket was barely able to get around it, and as it tried to lift the rock, the pressure on the rock was great enough that the surface exploded as the teeth clamped down. The smoke in the picture is from the fire-cracker like explosions. Very impressive.

trying to get a grip

     After a few tries, the trackhoe got a grip on the rock, and wasted no time in getting it moved over to the culvert. Weighing more than three tons, the rock was heavy enough to lift the hoe's back tracks clear of the ground.

swinging it into place

     Everyone held their breath as the rock swung past the culvert and settled into the spot already dug out for it. Some final nudging moved it right to where we were wanting it to go. It is truly a joy to watch an operator who's as good as George is.

nudging it into closer

     After the trackhoe moved away, Opalyn went in and snatched the smaller culvert out of the way.

Opalyn pulls the small culvert out

     With the guide rocks in place, and the smaller culvert out of there, the run-off creek easily washed the channel clear. More to do on this project, but so far, so good.

the first two rocks channeling the run-off

     Feeling that the above pic didn't do justice to the size of the rocks now guarding the entrance to the culvert, I asked Andrew and Nicole to add some scale to the scene.


Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 71