SVENSEN — In the late 1800s, crews building the South Jetty at the mouth of the Columbia River used a wooden trestle bridge to move large boulders to the end of Clatsop Spit.
Some of those same timbers have found new life in the popular trend of using reclaimed wood in construction, including the flooring of an elaborate new barn house in Svensen.
Tobey Parsons, owner of McGee Salvage, acquires reclaimed wood flooring from old gyms, houses and other structures. He was recently connected with Greg Morrill, general manager of marine contractor Bergerson Construction.
Bergerson in 2016 was awarded a contract to remove about 900 feet worth of jetty stones to improve fish passage into Trestle Bay near the tip of Clatsop Spit.
The project also entailed removing about 150 wooden pilings from the old trestle bridge, Morrill said. Designed to last only as long as the jetty’s construction, the timbers were not treated with creosote, a toxic chemical used to preserve wood. Bergerson was left to decide how to dispose of the timbers.
“When we realized the wood was in good shape but untreated, we started to explore options of recycling rather than cutting it up as firewood,” Morrill said. “I was talking to some local builders, and one of them suggested I call Tobey, and he developed a scheme.”
They brought in a mobile mill and spent four months processing the timbers into boards 16 to 19 feet long and more than 3/4-inch thick. Some of the boards have found their way onto the floor of a wooden barn house under construction by general contractor Duane Clayton in Svensen.
“They wanted a barn house, the rougher the better,” Clayton said of the owners.
The house is a laboratory of reused wood. The trestle timber flooring includes semicircular saw marks from the milling process, left for character. The blue pine walls were sourced from a forest burn in California. Structural beams come from North Dakota. And stairs to the second floor are marked with bolt holes from the underpinnings of a structure at North Tongue Point.
“I buy truckloads of old beams all the time to make plank floors,” Parsons said. “People like the nail and bolt holes.”
Parsons estimates he has installed reclaimed flooring at dozens of homes in Astoria, with 300,000 square feet still sitting at his warehouse in Hillsboro.