December 2016 Volunteers of the Month
Melanie Wilson and Billy Lancaster

“Chim chimeny, chim chimeny, chim chim cherie, a sweep is as lucky as lucky can be…” sings Dick Van Dyke in his role as the magic chimney sweep in Mary Poppins. I preface with this to put the image in your mind.

The unique group of facilities PATC calls cabins, lodges, houses or cottages all have something in common with one another. They all have a heat source for cooking and/or heating the facility. Walking into most of them, one would be greeted by the distinct fragrance of burned wood. There’s something about that fragrance that sparks (yes, it was a pun) a sense of familiarity. Maybe it goes back to the first hominid that was at the right place at the right time when lightning struck its shelter of twigs and leaves, leading to an epiphany that this bright stuff is hot, and it could be useful for other things.

Getting back to my story, the point I was trying to make was that PATC facilities have woodstoves. The woodstoves require wood. Renters have been hunting and gathering wood mostly for heating or just plain ambiance for many decades. Cabin overseers had the task of keeping the stoves and pipes clean and working well.

It wasn’t until about 10 or so years ago that Melanie Wilson, a loyal member volunteer for cabin reservations, listened to me discuss with a potential renter the proper use of woodstoves. Melanie volunteers every other week taking calls from folks to reserve cabins. She told me that she knew someone who would be interested to see the stoves, fireplaces, etc. inside the cabins. I asked her to have him come in and talk to me. He did. Thus began the lucky day that PATC was blessed with our very own chimney sweep, Billy Lancaster. We were glad Melanie let us know about Billy because his expertise was what the cabins system could use. Since that day, the couple was appointed overseers of the Johnson Cabin on the Vining Tract, and that’s not all.

So, instead of me rewriting the information I had asked them for, I’ll let them give you a synopsis of their work for PATC Cabins. Pay close attention, because what Melanie and Billy have accomplished is amazing.

“Hi Pat, good hearing from you! Here is what Billy and I came up with.

Cabins Desk volunteer every other Friday for years.

Co-Overseers - Johnson Cabin on the Vining Tract

• Donated and installed new chimney system
• Overhauled privy
• Other routine cabin overseer duties

Donated, delivered, and installed woodstoves and/or chimney lining systems for the following cabins:

• Bears Den — stove and chimney lining system
• Little Cove — stove and chimney lining system
• Robert Humphrey — stove and chimney lining system
• Lambert — stove and chimney lining system
• Bear Spring — delivered and installed PATC-owned stove and donated chimney lining system
• Corbin Cabin — reworked fireplace and made usable. Delivered, donated and installed chimney liner for wood stove. Rebuilt crowns at chimney tops, installed new chimney caps etc.
• Jones Mountain Cabin — masonry repairs to firebox
• Old Rag Cabin — donated woodstove

Swept and inspected the chimneys at the following cabins:

• Anna Michener
• Milesburn
• Gypsy Spring
• Dawson-swept and repaired
• The Hermitage
• Little Orleans
• Blackburn Trail Center
• Range View
• Lambert
• Tulip Tree — also repaired fascia boards on cabin
• Corbin
• Robert Humphrey
• Little Cove
• Mutton Top
• Wineberry
• Dunlodge
• Conley
• Argow
• Schairer Trail Center
• Bears Den Cottage
• Silberman

Work Trips

• Conley —two or three trips, including helping with new privy construction
• Schairer Trail Center — several trips
• Mutton Top

Numerous other minor chimney and masonry repairs and installation of chimney caps using materials we donated.”

Thank you, Melanie and Billy. You two have given PATC such valuable time and effort that the least we can do to show our appreciation is to recognize you both for the December Volunteer of the Month feature. From Mel Merritt, Facilities Supervisor, and the entire Cabins Committee, congratulations to both of you and thank you!!

—Patricia Fankhauser