In preparation for the Allegheny 100 Challenge earlier this month, coordinators discovered a trail detour caused by four new beaver dams that necessitated construction of a pontoon bridge across a watery 66-foot span.
The dams were built near the North Country Trail (NCT) six miles south of Marienville at the route 66 trailhead, flooding the original path
Seventeen volunteers included the Baker Trail crew and Allegheny National Forest and Clarion chapters of the North Country Trail. The Baker trail connects at this trailhead section of the North Country National Scenic Trail. The Baker trail is a 132-mile trail, part of the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy, which travels to Pittsburgh.
The bridge was engineered, designed and constructed by the Allegheny National Forest Chapter president Keith W. Klos of the North Country Trail. Many of the volunteers had worked on prior bridge building projects (Crooked Creek, Cherry Run, a 72-foot suspension).
Due to the location and terrain a "mule" was also engineered by Klos. The "mule" is a gas-motorized wagon-cart, with oversized lawn-tractor tires with chains. The crew used the mule to haul back sections of building material, which reduced the hauling by members of the crew. The pontoons, air-filled structures which provide buoyancy in water, were topped by wide boards. Four pontoon sections were donated by the Allegheny National Forest Service, Marienville District.
The project took approximately five hours to complete.
When testing the security of the pontoons, one crew member stated, "We could charge for an amusement ride."
Later Klos added stabilizers to eliminate dipping while hikers cross the bridge.