Re-roofing the Treadwell pump house

Progress on the roof project on the 100-year-old Treadwell pump house is subject to weather and tides. Photo by Ed Shoenfeld.

It hasn’t been an easy job to re-roof the old Treadwell pump house on Sandy Beach.

“They’re working the weather and the tides a bit.”

That may be a bit of an understatement.  Project manager Gary Gillette says it should have been done by now.

When calm winds and tides allow, roofers from North Pacific Erectors make progress on the more than 100-year old building.

Gillette says most of the roof blew off years ago.  And now the Treadwell Historic Preservation and Restoration Society has raised the funds to repair it.

Gillette is on the society’s board.  He says project costs could reach $35,000.

“It sounds high. The materials are probably 6 or 7 thousand of that, but when you also consider the logistics of getting materials out there, dealing with the tide, getting up to that structure, they had to build a platform to work from, it’s pretty involved for such a little project,” he says.

The society has a state grant matched by local donations of materials and cash to repair the concrete structure that’s an icon of the old Treadwell mining days.  He says the society needs to raise another $8,000.

Workers are using treated wood for new interior walls and the roof, so Gillette says it should last another 50 to 100 years.

Not all the work can be seen.

“They had to build a platform inside to work from then they had to build the walls inside because they didn’t want to rest the roof on the existing walls,” he says.  “The concrete is not strong enough to take it, so there’s more than meets the eye there.”

Ruby checks out progress on the pump house roof. Photo by Jim Mahan.

To help preserve the new roof, the window openings will also be covered.

“Part of the problem is the wind gets through there and puts a lot of lifting forces on the roof and lets rain and stuff get in there,” Gillette says, “so we’re covering over the windows with a black material.”

He says the windows will still look like a black hole in the concrete structure. 

“It’s called Dibond and it’s like two layers of really thin aluminum with a high density foam core,” he says. “I think it’s an eighth or a quarter-inch thick.”

The Treadwell pump house was used to pump salt water for the milling process and fire suppression when the fresh water in  Treadwell Ditch froze in the winter.

The pump house project is part of the Treadwell society’s effort to preserve the old mining area. Last year interpretive signs were put up along the trail.  Gillette says the society also has some state grant funds to design a new roof for the old concrete office building that’s left near the trail.