The open well syndrome
by Oscar Roloff
For years, I covered the Eastside as a writer, going to every nook and cranny to find unusual sites to photograph and write about. I'd covered Redmond, Fall City, Carnation, Duvall, Woodinville, and other spots along the road or off the road, mostly off.
One-time historian Ralph Taylor of Duvall (now deceased) told me stories about the old Siler Logging Company, which had covered the whole area, cutting down huge trees and getting them ready for shipment elsewhere. The loggers would stay in one place, then move on to other locations. One site was on the west slope of the Snoqualmie Valley, and they had been based there, workers had lived there and such, Taylor said.
Following his meager directions, I parked my car along the road, and with camera in hand, I mushed off into the woods. No one knew of my plan. Normally, my wife worried about my treks into the woods, all alone.
Onward past stands of huge trees and scrub brush. After about a mile, I came to a partial clearing. I saw to one side a huge opening near a tree--a site where bears dig out for winter use. It was bear country. I worried a little.
Noting a fallen structure, I walked over to find an old bed and remnants of home life of yesteryear. It was a Siler Site, I deduced. Part of an old woodburning stove was nearby.
A close call
As I walked about, all of a sudden, an unknown force told me to stop, quickly. I followed the warning. Upon looking down one step further, I saw an open well.
Apprehensively, I leaned over to peer down. About 20 feet below, I could see greenish water and rotted parts of wood. I presumed they had once covered the now-open well. Somewhat shaky, I backed away. It wasn't easy finding my way back to the main road. I'd forgotten my Boy Scout training.
I stopped at the first house and told the lady about the open well and not to let her kids wander off alone in the direction. She said she'd notify the proper authorities.
Today, I presume the site is a large Woodinville housing area.
If I'd fallen into that open well, no one would have ever found my body. That would have been the site of my demise. When I told my wife about that near-death episode, she cried. Then I did, too. It's natural, a normal late reaction. I'm already burdened by two wars.
Needless to say, that was my last foray into the wilderness, alone.
Today I wonder and ponder as to what force told me to stop. It's a perplexing quandary. Any thoughts?
Remember my close call with death at an old outlying pioneer cemetery when a huge fist was ready to smash into my neck and instantly a warning arrived to save my life?