CREEK CROSSING CREATION
By Norris Chambers
By Norris Chambers
We had to walk a half mile to a place where we could cross and then half mile back to the bus. That meant an extra mile of walking twice a day. We dreamed of building a bridge across it. Then we thought of a swinging bridge. But these required a lot of material and work. The next thing that occurred to us was a "trolley wire."
For several years we had built trolley wires from the top of a tall tree to the base of another several hundred feet away. We used steel cable, which was available almost anywhere in the oil field area. The drilling rigs changed their cable and left the old wire lying stretched out across the pasture. We liked the more flexible "sand line" that was about 1/2" diameter. Sand line was used to lower and raise the bailer, or long bucket, that bailed the slush out of the hole during the drilling operation. This wire was easy to stretch with a turn buckle (a stretching device made of threaded rods with a double nut in the middle- also available free. The next step was to take a regular rope pulley and tie an old tire to it. It would then roll on the stretched cable. You could pull it to the top of the tree with a trailing rope, get in it, and make a fast, thrilling trip to the base of the other tree. You started slowing down before you hit the tree by dragging your feet on the ground.
For our creek crossing machine, we decided to stretch the cable across the creek from a tree on one side to another on the opposite bank. Then we expected to tie the usual tire to the pulley and use that for the carriage. We tied a rope from the top of the tire and placed it over a pulley high in the tree we had tied the cable to. On the end of the ropes (a rope and pulley in each tree) we tied a pretty heavy weight. With one of these on each side of the creek, the weights kept the trolley carriage evenly balanced.
When we wanted to ride across, if the carriage was not on our side, we just pulled on the rope and brought it across. When we did this, the weight on the other side would rise and the one on our side would lower. We would climb in (one at a time) and pull ourselves across with the balance rope.
This system worked nicely, and saved us a mile in the morning and a mile in the afternoon. We figured if we saved ten miles a week, and school lasted 30 weeks, that would be a savings of 300 miles. That is enough walking to start damaging the soles of your shoes.
But that was not the end of the usefulness of our conveyance. In the summer time, the water hole was a favorite swimming pool. You could hang from the tire with your legs and turn loose over the middle, making a very fancy dive.
We discussed making an enclosed cab with a double seat so that we could both cross at the same time and in extreme comfort. But this construction project never got past the planning stage. We had so many other things to do in those days that we never found time to make the cab. It is probably just as well.
Our "creek crosser" must have been successful. Not only did it get us safely across the creek in all kinds of weather while we were going to school, but it was frequently used by any hunter or wanderer that happened to have a need to get on the other side.
The moral to the story, if it has one, is if there is a way to do it yourself then DO IT. You will be surprised how much FUN you can uncover when you make something and see it work. Even if it does not work, it can still be FUN!