Ghost Log

Ghost Log is an 8’ diameter by 44’ long Corten steel sculpture that sits on a historical vintage reclaimed artifact, the head saw and carriage from the original Dickman Lumber Mill. 

Site of the former Dickman Mill

The project site is at Dickman Mill Park on Commencement Bay in Tacoma, WA. Dickman Park sits on Indigenous land, the traditional territory of the Coast Salish people. Cedar is sacred to the local Puyallup Tribe and the Ghost Log honors their history through form and text incorporated into the sculpture. 

Built in 1889 and destroyed in a fire in 1979, the mill housed a giant head saw that was salvaged and has been in storage for nearly 40 years. The project is being built on top of the ruins of the mill. aerial view of the ruins

The head saw dates from 1923 and is an unmodified “ten saw” from the heyday of Tacoma’s lumber mill years, unique in Washington State. The artifact is listed on the Washington State Heritage Register and on the City of Tacoma’s Register of Historic Structures. Cambia Health is financing. You can hear more background on the history of the project on Cityline.

The sculpture Ghost Log is an abstracted cedar log with laser cut skin resembling cedar bark.  An 8’ wheel gear at the park end of the log makes witness to the enormous scaled logs that were cut at this site and contributes to a deeper understanding of the industry. The sculpture starts at the park end as a mechanical structure mashed together with an enormous cedar log. It transforms to the organic as it twists and turns, first to form a basket weave midway and then culminates in cedar boughs at the water’s edge. 

Ghost Log

The basket form honors the tribal lands of the area. Similar to our understanding of a ghost presence as a shadowy ethereal form, the log lit inside creates a network of reflection on the water at night.

In development: Ghost Timbre, a sound accompaniment that adds to this ethereal quality and flushes out the stories and sounds of the park and its history.

Ghost Timbre 

Sponsored by the Tacoma Historical Society, the project has received a grant from The Charity Trust Board of the Puyallup Tribe. The sound component is an imperative piece of storytelling. It speaks to the relationship of the natural surroundings, the people in the community and the local lumber industry. The sound art contains: sounds of the wetland and birds singing, interviews of Puyallup elders speaking to the relationship between earth, people and cedar, cedar blessings and song, documentation of a cedar gathering, stories from the Dickman family (out takes previously recorded by Storycorp), sounds from a working vintage mill, interviews of workers, and the sound of water and logs splashing. The Ghost Timbresoundtrack will be hosted on the Metro Parks Tacoma website. The link will be shared on interpretive signage at the park, and available virtually through the website. Use of a cell phone to follow a QR code or a posted link provides access to the soundtrack at the pier, or later at home.