Traveling through Cle Elum, Eric Johnson and I happened upon Stephen Ristene, his neighbor Caleb, and their amazing wheelbarrow tower.
Imagine the surprise to those passing by,
the quizzical looks, the wondering why.
What’s that in the woods on the edge of Cle Elum?
Would anyone believe ya if you dared even tell ‘em?
The wheelbarrow’s a rickshaw for dirt and debris,
a long shot for glory and immortality.
But there in the trees among pine cones and sparrows,
is a sky scraping tower of rusty wheelbarrows.
There was no master plan when he first stacked dirt carriers,
imagination and gravity his only true barriers.
Does he rent them? Does he steal them? Is he on the straight and narrow?
Does his old dog Hunter beg, steal and wheel-barrow?
But he could only go so far without pushing his luck,
what the stacker really needed was a big fire truck.
And then just this morning, like a gift dropped from heaven,
came the big ladder truck from fire district seven.
Of all the great towers in all this great world,
we should remember and try to be mindful.
Spectacular feats of engineering and vision,
Babel, and Pisa, Eiffel.
But when they ask you to name the greatest of towers,
made by kings, czars or pharaohs,
Be sure to tell ‘em,
‘bout the one in Cle Elum,
Known simply as “Tower Wheelbarrows”
And when the stacking is done
and the stacker grows old,
there will be no sad goodbye.
He’ll look up for a while then Stephen will smile,
and climb his wheelbarrow stairway to the sky.
- Eric Johnson
Fire District 7 Chief Russ Hobbs says that they don't often get a chance use their ladder truck, the wires and angle of the wheelbarrow tower made this project the perfect training exercise.