Enchanted Valley Chalet

Enchanted Valley Chalet

Figure No. 1: Enchanted Valley Chalet, April 2005.

After the Olympic Chalet Company was chosen over the Olympic Recreation Company to construct the Low Divide Chalet in 1926, the Forest Service then asked the Olympic Recreation Company if they would be interested in a chalet on the east fork of the Quinault River. At this time, the Forest Service was considering building a road up the valley. Counting on the road being eventually built, the Olympic Recreation Company took out a special use permit in 1928 and received design approval for the chalet in 1930.

Constructed in the summer of 1930 by T. E. Chrisswell and son Glenn Chrisswell. The 2 1/2-story structure was 28 x 42 feet, and made of silver fir logs. The logs were hand hewn with the first story 10" wide and the second 8" wide. The building was completed and opened to guests in early August 1931. It was a successfully operation in the initial years, but by 1936 the climate of the Depression eventually led to the decision to sell the buildings to NPS and not close the lodge. Meanwhile, the lease was transferred to the National Park Service and discussions began in 1939 for NPS to acquire the property. During World War II, the Chalet was used by the Aircraft Warning System and Superintendent Macy wrote to NPS San Francisco office that he desired to station a fireguard at the Chalet that summer.

Eventually, Congress authorized purchase of the property in 1944, but it was not until 1951 that price negotiations were resolved and the government official took ownership of the building. Hikers used the building during this period, but without any formal management. In the early 1950's NPS made some repairs to the building, stationed a seasonal summer ranger there, and opened it to public use. 1

Little attention appears to have been given the condition of the Chalet for the 30 years, and by the early 1980's, it had become "....so rundown that most of it was closed to the public." 2

The work was so extensive that when a condition assessment was conducted the following year (1985), the chalet was considered to be in excellent condition for its age and building type. Recommendations from the repair make no reference to any needed repairs, listing only cyclic maintenance and inspection.

A condition assessment thirteen years later in 1998 found the structure to continue to be in excellent condition with only some shallow surface rot on the lower courses of logs and many areas of missing chinking between the wall logs. Recommendation was to chink the logs with fiberglas insulation to help control rodent problems in the building.

The winter of 1998/99 was very harsh. A condition report in the summer of 1999 noted that shakes were missing from the roof, leaks had developed, and snow sliding off the roof had torn off the roofs over the entry door and the bulletin board. Bricks were spalling off the chimney. Many of the logs in the lower wall courses were deteriorating, especially on the north wall with the exception of those replaced in 1984. Windows needed repair and repainting. While it appears the building had reached another period of repairs though there is little documentation on actual work that addressed these issues.

The last condition assessment of the structure occurred in 2004. It was conducted by the National Park Service Historic Preservation Training Center. The assessment addresses many of the concerns from the 1999 report. Deterioration was observed in the logs of the north wall with a recommendation for replacing nine logs. Site re-grading was recommended at the base of the structure below the eave lines of the roof to try and direct moisture away from the building. Maintenance painting of all windows and shutters needed to occur and replacement of the roof over the door recommended, but redesigning it to be a shed roof in lieu of the former gable canopy. The top of the chimney was noted as needing some brick replacement, though the extent and quantity was not discussed. The most extensive recommendation was for the complete replacement of the shake roof. It was felt that as of 2004 the roof had only a few more years of service left.

Enchanted Valley Chalet

Figure No. 2: Enchanted Valley Chalet, April 2004.

  • The issue of site drainage is always critical around structures, but especially so for log buildings. It is good maintenance practice to insure the exterior of a structure has a positive grade slope away from the building. On level sites, this is best accomplished with grade swales constructed as a collection basin and then gently sloped for drainage. Often the concept of foundation drains is discussed in regards to site drainage, and in instances of a perfectly level site and the reluctance for site alteration or restraints, they can be useful. The performance of foundation drains is affected by soil type, frost depth, organic decomposition and method of installation. In remote locations, grade swales are easier to maintain and construct that foundation drains.

    Concrete foundations like under the chalet will always transport a degree of moisture. Without a damp proof barrier on top of the foundation, ground moisture can and will migrate to the underside of the sill log. As future work is conducted to replace logs in the wall, consideration should be given to installation of a damp proof barrier to reduce at least one source of moisture into the sill log.


    Grade swales should be maintained around the chalet for moisture control and when replacing sill log a damp proof course should be insert to reduce foundation moisture migration.

  • A persistent issue with log structures in heavy snow country is the deep accumulation of the material along eave walls as the roof sheds snow. During a long, slow spring melt, the moisture from the snow saturates those courses covered under the snow. As this moisture evaporates, the cold temperature of the snow creates a microclimate of high humidity next to the building, encouraging fungal growth.

    Removing the snow in a remote location is impractical. An application of log preservative has been applied to the logs of the chalet at least once in 1984. The challenge with topical applications of preservative is their length of service and environmental effects.

    The most promising and a widely used material currently in the wood preservation industry is borate. Borate is effective for fungal and insect control. Both topical and solid rod inserts are available. In conditions like at the chalet, the use of borate rods inserted into the lower courses of logs would aid in reduction of the degree of fungal activity. A small hole is drilled in the log, a borate rod inserted, and the hole plugged with a wood dowel. The borate rod remains inert until in contact with moisture. Then some of the material dissolves to migrate through the wood and prevent fungal activity. When the moisture in the log is reduced through drying, the rod will go back to an inert status. One of the problems with borate is its effectiveness as an herbicide. The borate material can leach from the logs under high moisture content and if there are sensitive plantings around a building they sometimes can be affected. The use of any borate preservation treatment should be reviewed by the Integrated Pest Management officer at the Park for approval.

    Borate preservative of course will not repair deteriorated logs, and in the instance of severe rot, the log must be replaced. Depending on the depth of a log, some logs can continue to be utilized with a borate treatment when there is only minor surface deterioration.

    Some instances of powder post beetle activity have been recorded on the chalet walls. If active, a borate treatment can again be used.

    In all instances, preservative should be utilized in a managed and controlled manner for specific problems. Indiscriminate use is never justified.


    Deteriorated sill and lower course logs on the chalet should be replaced. During the process a borate preservative treatment can be incorporated. For those logs still serviceable, in place treatment can be considered.


  • The roof of the chalet was noted in 2004 as reaching its service life. In addition to the actual shakes, during a re-roofing project the flashing around projections like a chimney should be replaced and correctly installed.


    Planning should proceed with replacement of the shake roof in the near future. As part of the project, all flashing should be replaced.

  • Observations have been made on the chimney of brick failure and spalling. In general, there are two primary causes for such action. First is the quality of brick, and second is the character of the mortar used in the assembly. Lightly or moderately fired brick is too porous and will adsorb enough moisture from snow melting off the top of the chimney to be effected by freezing. Too hard a mortar will not respond thermally to temperature changes in the chimney.

    Bricks used for chimneys in extreme climates should be specified as "SW - Severe Weather". These bricks are the most durable and least porous of standard manufactured brick. Mortar for a chimney should be of a Type 'N', mixed on site and not pre-mixed in a bag. Such a mortar will respond better to thermal movements and still retain a high degree of bond.

    Since repairs are needed on the chimney, it is usually better to rebuild from the roofline up. This would also allow incorporation of new roof flashing during replacement of the shake roof.

  • Repairs/rebuilding of the chimney should be done with SW brick and a non pre-mix Type 'N' mortar.

  • Painting and re-glazing of wood windows is cyclical maintenance preservation procedure. In 2004 it was observed the windows were in need of painting. The North Cascades Preservation Building team works out of a shop on Whidbey Island in Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve. The team members have extensive training and experience in the preservation treatment of historic windows. They have developed the best treatment procedures for historic wood windows in the Pacific Northwest. They should be consulted for the most durable glazing and paint for the project.


    As part of the preservation program for the chalet, the windows should be completely primed, re-glazed and painted.

1   Geerdes. Raymond. [Seasonal Ranger] Enchanted Valley and its Chalet. 1954. [OLYM Archives, Superintendent's Office Files, Accession No. 438, no box #, File 30; Enchanted Valley Chalet, 1983-1985.]
2   Weyerhaeuser Company Foundation, 1983 Annual Report. . [OLYM Archives, Superintendent's Office Files, Accession No. 438, no box #, File 30; Enchanted Valley Chalet, 1983-1985.]

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