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New Totem Pole “Tu-Buc” Unveiled

The carvers of the new totem pole: Jim Williams, Jane Rutledge, John Thoelcke, Bob McCormick and not pictured, Jim Yenter.  Courtesy photo

The carvers of the new totem pole: Jim Williams, Jane Rutledge, John Thoelcke, Bob McCormick and not pictured, Jim Yenter. Courtesy photo

The Two Bucks Carving Club of Estes Park was delighted and proud to welcome approximately 60 family, friends, and neighbors to the unveiling of the totem pole named “Tu Buc.” The unveiling took about 30 minutes after which everyone stayed around to ask questions, take pictures, see samples of other carvings and to enjoy visiting with each other. After having accomplishing our biggest carving project ever, the Carving Club will have to think of something else to top the totem pole project. Stand by for coming projects. In the meantime if you happen to come by Carriage Drive and Fish Creek Road check out “Tu Buc.”

The Story of Tu Bac.

The carving of this totem pole began with a carving project started in the latter part of 2006 when the club decided to make totem poles from aspen logs. Each member of the club was given an aspen log approximately three feet long. With knives in hand and visions of animals in mind, the members set out to carve their own totem poles. At the time, a project of that length was considered a big project. As time permitted and visions came to fruition, the totem poles began to take shape in 2007. Toward the end of 2007 the club was offered a log near Meeker Park if we would carve a totem. Having just finished our personal totems and being filled with confidence we agreed to the project. After all, we had knives. How hard could it be to go from a three foot piece of aspen to an eight foot Ponderosa pine log? Though the Meeker Park project came to a sudden halt the carving club had the fever. We had to carve a totem pole. Fortunately another Ponderosa pine log became available. So, on a very cold day in February 2008, we loaded it up and took it to a new site.

The new log was around 24 feet long. We had come from three foot aspen logs to an eight foot pine log and finally settled on a 24 foot log. The club was certain we could carve a totem pole. It’s often easier to think you can do something when you don’t know what lies ahead. With a lot of enthusiasm we launched the project by looking at various animals to adorn the totem. With an agreement that we would use an eagle, a beaver, and a bear, plans were drawn up and put in place. We had taken the log down to 12 feet for the animals plus, another five feet to go into the ground. Not bad! We had already gotten the project down from 24 feet to 16 feet and we had not carved anything yet.

With the log relocated to a place that was near where we wanted it to stand the carving began. The knives of past carving were replaced with chisels and mallets. It took very little time before we knew we faced a daunting project and we had underestimated the tools needed to accomplish the project. Out came the chain saws, grinders, and power sanders. By June 2008, we were seeing animal shapes coming out of the log. The club was working one evening a week, cutting, filling cracks, and shaping the different parts of the totem. In mid July 2008, we had a visit from the local newspaper and the word was out. The Two Bucks Carving Club was carving a totem pole.
As the days passed into August we made progress. We were unsure how we had gotten where we were but the project was looking like what we had thought it would look like. In August we started adding paint to the figures, and we realized we had another big obstacle to overcome. How would we get the pole from its horizontal position to a vertical position? We hit rock everywhere we tried to dig a hole.

Rather than solve the problem of getting the totem in the ground we decided to get the wings ready to go and get a fish carved for the final assembly. By September 2008, the decision was to wrap up the main totem pole, the wings and other parts to be ready for spring 2009. With painting done and water seal applied, everything was wrapped up and we took a break until spring. After all we had not solved the problem of getting the pole vertical and the winter winds were not far away.

In May 2009, we were back at the project. The wings and parts were added to the totem pole. Over the winter we had developed a plan to get the pole upright. In June the totem was installed in a vertical position, a concrete skirt was added to the base of the pole and a date for the unveiling was set. The totem “Tu Buc” was ready the be introduced to the Estes Valley.

The carvers involved in the project were Jim Williams, Jim Yenter, Jane Rutledge, Bob McCormick, and John Thoelcke. Special thanks to the Good Samaritan Center for giving us a place to carve and to A-1 Excavating for assistance in with this project by digging the hole and setting it in the ground.

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