Asphalt and Incinerators

by kfrego

Garberville, CA is located on US Highway 101 about 200 miles north of San Francisco. Highway 101 is called the Redwood Highway and Garberville is located in close proximity to the groves of huge Redwoods. The town is inland 24 miles from the Pacific Ocean at Shelter Cove. In the mid 1980’s Garberville was known for it’s scenic tourist attractions and as the top marijuana growing region in the country. It’s popularity was shared between thriving marijuana operations and all the state and national law enforcement agencies trying to eradicate them. A large incinerator near town was used specifically for burning the confiscated crops brought in with helicopters and trucks. The helicopters used large cargo nets to transport the marijuana from remote mountain locations. The flatbed trucks would travel down the highway with the marijuana loaded four feet above the side racks. It was quite a show as the loads came in to be burned day after day. The plume of white smoke was a daily occurrence at the incinerator visible from our work site.

I went to Garberville with Schnabel Foundation to build a retaining wall between the South Fork of the Eel River and Highway 101 about four miles north of town. Every year the highway settled about six to eight inches at the base of a steep slope. When the 80 foot long area of highway created a bad bump the state would repave the section to get it back level. When we drilled our three foot diameter holes for the large forty foot steel beams it wasn’t uncommon to drill 15 feet of asphalt. When we excavated and shored the area between our steel beams with treated six by six timbers we excavated a lot of solid asphalt. We drilled horizontal tiebacks 40 feet through the new wall and anchored them with cement grout. A 90 ton crane suspended the sixty foot long drill over the side of our retaining wall so we could drill.

Most of our crew stayed at the Dean Creek Campground and Motel a mile from our job. Linda brought our three children and several friends to Garberville for a weeks camping while I worked. We caught sea trout at the black pebble beaches near Shelter Cove. The filets were a blue green color and turned white as they fried in the pan. They were some of the best fish I’ve ever consumed. We visited the Humbolt Redwood Tree area with the kids. We ate fresh salmon from a Eureka day charter with our oldest son Jamie. He learned more about sea sickness than he did fishing. Once in a while I would walk the mile from work to Dean Creek between the river and the highway. By the time I reached camp I would have a quart of huge blackberries to go along with dinner. Garberville was enjoyable. Most of our jobs were in the cities.

A car hit our paving machine the last day of the job………the hippy lady had been testing the family crop.