Wolfe Creek Wednesday: Amish Construction

Wolfe Creek Wednesday: Graduation Celebration!
May 22, 2013
Wolfe Creek Wednesday: Father’s Day
July 20, 2013

This post is a part of a series on our blog called “Wolfe Creek Wednesday”. Each Wednesday, we’ll be posting a fun fact, story, or a newsworthy piece of information about Wolfe Creek Preserve that we think you’ll find interesting! Although we’re best known for our world-class zipline course, our beautiful facility is also home to an array of indoor and outdoor activities, rich history, and a natural setting that we take great care to protect. We’re excited to have you join us each Wednesday so we can share more about our mission to make Wolfe Creek Preserve a place where people of all ages can have fun adventures and make lasting memories with loved ones!

Amish Construction
Here at Wolfe Creek Preserve we place our values at the center of our business practice, which means that we make decisions based on low-environmental impact levels, respect for history, highest regard for safety, and facilitating genuine interactions between ourselves and every visitor or employee that joins us. Because of our adherence to these values, we elected to work with an Amish crew of builders and craftsmen from Seymour, Missouri in order to construct many of our buildings and pavilions.

If you remember, we shared the story of Eli Wolfe saving an Amish family from being attacked by a brown bear (if you missed the story, you can read more about it here). Although Eli’s initial encounter with the Amish family occurred many, many years ago, he became a friend of the Amish community nearby. While spending time in the community, he became very impressed with world-class quality they present in all of their projects, and enamoured with their inventive ways of creating products using skills and techniques from the past. He appreciated their timeless ways and their fun-loving, welcoming, and quick-witted personalities. Eli developed a bond with the Amish that we still cherish today. Since the history of our land and the Wolfe family is so important to us (we tell their story along our zipline course), we knew that it would be a privilege to work with the Amish community in Seymour, Missouri to complete many of our buildings and other projects around the land.

When you visit Wolfe Creek Preserve, you’ll most likely, at some point in the day, find yourself wandering one of our many decks in order to get an incredible view of the surrounding Ozark Mountains, the zipline course zig-zagging across the hillside, or a glimpse of a hawk wheeling around a sunset sky. You might find yourself in one of our incredible pavilions perfect for group outings or parties, mingling with friends and family. Or, you might find yourself wandering down our nature trail so immersed in the quiet sounds of the creek, the lush surrounding trees, or the sighting of an armadillo that you might not realize how much work went into creating the finely-crafted trail. No matter what part of our property you find yourself on during your visit to Wolfe Creek Preserve, the Amish crew most likely had a hand in the stunning craftsmanship. The Amish crew has an extensive woodworking shop in their community and are responsible for building the spaces that make group visits to Wolfe Creek Preserve truly unique. They built and installed the decks around the front and north side of Wolfe Creek Station, including the Xplorer Balcony. They also constructed and erected Prospector Pavilion.

Their contribution to Wolfe Creek Preserve is truly significant, but even more compelling are the logistical details of how the Amish crew built these gorgeous structures. At our first meeting to talk about the structures that we envisioned, the father of the Amish family discussed possibilities with our owners and sketched out a plan on a napkin. Once the plan was agreed upon, he returned to the community to begin work. His crew was made up of about 10 boys, all ranging from approximately 10-25 years old. The crew worked at the Amish shop for months in order to use the huge lumber milling and woodworking tools there. In many modern shops, all of this would be powered by electricity but theirs is powered by harnessed horse power – real horses walk in a circle to create the power needed to operate saw blades over 8’ tall! The Amish crew worked for months on the huge beams needed to construct the pavilion and decks. Once the pieces were complete, the crew of ten brought them to the zipline to put them into place.
They used manpower to place all of the pieces for the single-story deck and entry of Wolfe Creek Station, using a mallet to band the pegs into place to hold each piece. They did not use any nails, screws, glue, etc. to hold the pieces together. It never ceases to amaze us that they created each of these intricate pieces at their farm, brought them together on site, and that everything fit perfectly. Although they put up the single-story deck using only manpower, we had to hire a crane to set the two-story deck on the north side of the building and the pavilion because the beams were so big. Once the main pieces were put into place, they finished assembling all other pieces by hand. In addition to these impressive building-feats, the crew also built the staircase, which they put together for the first time on site. Every single piece fit together and no modifications were needed!

The crew worked for approximately eighteen months and were instrumental in making Wolfe Creek Preserve as you see it today. We encourage you to take time to not only admire the stunning natural surroundings of Wolfe Creek Preserve when you visit, but also take time to admire the craftsmanship of the Amish community. In order to fully appreciate the structures, sign your friends / family / coworkers / sports team / graduating class / church group / bachelor(ette) party up for an incredible group outing at Wolfe Creek Preserve and utilize either the Prospector Pavilion or the Xplorer Balcony to host a party that no one will forget. By signing up for one of our group excursions, you’ll have access to a covered pavilion, access to any catering option you could dream up, and the ability to choose as an individual whether you’d like to partake in one of our many zipline tours, our Photo Safari Nature Walk, explore the store, or just kick your feet up on a hand-crafted balcony and relax for an afternoon. To sign up for a group excursion and access one of our two incredible group party spaces, call Wes at (800) 717-0998 today!

Or, if you elect not to host a party, be sure to come out and visit us anyway because there are plenty of other ways to enjoy and appreciate the craftsmanship and community of the Amish. As you drive up Wolfe Creek Mountain, you’ll notice a fort on your right side about half-way up. This is Fort Jonas, named after the crew leader. The impressive wood fence at the top of Wolfe Mountain is also a reminder of our Amish friends. Even if you don’t experience a tour with us, you can still take home a reminder of the bond between the Wolfe family and the Amish by purchasing a jar (or several) of Amish Feast from our Wolfe Creek Station store. And, our Amish friends do still visit from time to time, so you might actually see them zipping through the trees, too!