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Erv Olen Memorial Bench

shirley-tries-out-the-bench.jpg The Olen Family recently installed a new and very special bench on the north end of the Crown Point Trail, near Cascade, to honor the late Erv Olen. Erv was a great advocate for pedestrian trails and an awesome worker bee for Valley County Pathways. We are calling it the “Erv Olen Memorial Bench.”

The bench is located in a beautiful spot that overlooks Lake Cascade near Vista Point. It also just happens to look up at Erv’s favorite elk camp on West Mountain.

Part of the reason we picked that spot is that Erv had put a lot of work into that section of trail. The Putman family had donated a quarter-mile of private property to Valley County Pathways on the north end of the Crown Point Trail.

To marry that section of trail with the existing Crown Point Trail, we were required by the Bureau of Reclamation to build a fence along the eastern boundary of the pathway to keep ATV’s off the trail.

Erv and I worked with Russ Perry of Cascade to build the A-frames for a continuous line of buck fence along the pathway. Jeff Halligan and Damon Yerkes cut a bunch of post and poles in the Boise National Forest and delivered them to the project site. And Clint Kennedy’s Cascade High School science class helped us finish the fencing project by drilling and screwing in the poles to connect the A-frames in a matter of several hours in the fall of 2007. Way to go Cascade High! Those kids rock!

As a longtime runner who had completed the Race to Robie Creek 22 times, Erv was a big fan of pedestrian pathways. He knew the public loved pedestrian pathways. “Build them and the people will come!” he always said.

When we first started talking about forming Valley County Pathways in 2003, I discovered that Erv had been talking to several agencies about trying to build a pathway from Donnelly to Tamarack. I didn’t know him, at the time, but I gave him a call and noted that a bunch of citizens had been meeting and wanted to plan a valley-wide pathway system. Would he like to join us?

Erv thought that was fantastic, and he joined our efforts immediately. We worked together for five years on a variety of projects, including several grant applications to the Idaho Transportation Department to build a pathway from Tamarack Falls to Donnelly. Unfortunately, the topsy-turvy terrain along a narrow strip of land along the lakeshore raised too many questions in the minds of ITD engineers, and our applications were never funded. Someday, they will be.

Erv’s widow, Shirley Olen, a long-time runner and pathway advocate herself, has stepped up to serve on the VC Pathways Board of Directors and she’s our membership coordinator. We are fortunate to have her.

The people who contributed to the bench construction project include Shirley, Shirley’s daughter, Christine and her husband, Emil, Wendy Wilson and Steve Stuebner, and Shirley’s second husband Manuel. Thanks everyone!

In the meantime, the next time you go hiking, biking or cross-country skiing on the Crown Point Trail, take a moment to sit on the Erv Olen Memorial Bench and enjoy the view.

– Steve Stuebner

3 comments to Erv Olen Memorial Bench

  • Chuck Dougherty

    Erv was one of my very closest friends in high school & Yuba College. We shared a love of cross country, running on the same team in high school & at Yuba. After graduating from Yuba we shared an apartment in San Jose our first semester at SJS College. Two years later Erv was “Best Man” at my first wedding. I’ll remember Erv also for getting a trophy for the largest buck deer shot with his bow & arrow. He said the deer was on a ridge top across the valley from him. He started lobbing arrows in the deer’s direction, with several being in flight at the same time. As luck would have it, the 4th arrow came down right through the deer’s neck. An 5 pointer (or as some count, a 10 pointer), it was the biggest buck taken by bow and arrow that season (about 1960).
    Erv and I and a couple of other friends liked to go to Reno on Friday night to have fun and gamble. We were only 18. One night while Erv was in the shower I came home and hid in his closet and waited for him to come back into the room. When opened his closet door I jumped out saying “oooooh”. Erv’s expression was priceless. He back peddled quickly and in a scared voice said: “OOOh, Nooo”. We had lots of fun times running from the Sutter high school out to the top of Sutter south Butte and back. That run was about 6 miles out and 6 miles back, plus the climb to the top of South Butte, about 2200 feet high. I never beat Erv in any race, but I could beat him to the top of South Butte. I miss him and think this memorial bench is a wonderful tribute to a great guy.

  • Chuck Dougherty

    I have lost contact with Shirley. Would someone who knows how to reach her let me know, please?
    Besides my E-mail address above, my one # is (408) 972-1188
    I just submitted the above entry about Erv
    Thank you

  • Judi Johnson

    This bench looks lovely what a nice way to remember father, husband and friend. I want to install a memorial bench for my father in McCall and I don’t know how to buy them or who can install it. I don’t live in McCall, but I have a place in mind and I’ve already talked to the people there about installing a memorial bench. Just need to know where I can buy one and who could install it.
    Thank you in advance for any advice.

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