Once upon a time

What's left of the Weyerhaeuser sawmill at Okanagan Falls, BC. The mill was a victim of market conditions and log supply. The site is going to be a new subdivision.

What’s left of the Weyerhaeuser sawmill at Okanagan Falls, BC. The mill was a victim of market conditions and log supply. The site is going to be a new subdivision.

Last Sunday, we were travelling home from Kelowna, B.C. and decided to take Highway 97 south to Interstate 90, then west to home. Along the way, we passed south along Okanagan Lake, through Penticton, along Skaha Lake to Okanagan Falls, then on to Osoyoos Lake and the town of the same name.

We dallied in Penticton for a while, driving around town, seeing a couple of the houses that we called home during the twelve years we lived there. Seeing how much main street had changed, how much it was still the same. Still looks like a nice community to claim a connection to. On this day, it showed what a great place it is to visit for a holiday in the summer sun. Lots of people rafting down the Okanagan River Channel. Lots of people out on the beach.

Passing through Okanagan Falls, I had to visit the old Weyerhaeuser Sawmill site. I worked at the mill for those twelve years we lived in Penticton. As you can see, there isn’t much left.

Sign on Highway 97 indicating the turnoff to the now closed, OK Falls operation.
Sign on Highway 97 indicating the turnoff to the now closed, OK Falls operation.

The mill closed a number of years ago, before I retired from the company. By then I had moved to Weyerhaeuser’s corporate headquarters in Federal Way, WA (that’s why we now call Bonney Lake home). It was time to shut it down. Markets were getting tough, the log supply was drying up thanks to the ravages of the Mountain Pine Beetle. Probably didn’t make much of a mark on the local economy because the business of Wine has become so important.

Still, I find it saddening. This is the end result of twelve years of my life. Sadder still, when I look at what Weyerhaeuser has become. Thirty years working to build the company, and now, the times have reduced it to a fraction of its former self.

On the other hand, I can look back at the successes I had with the company, both at the Falls, and at other sites. And, the friends I have made along the way.

Oh well, it is but a moment along the road home.