Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Going to school: Lil’ Red Schoolhouse begins two-day move

ON THE MOVE: Roy Dean, of A-Arid State Enterprises, Inc., in the orange safety vest, directs his son, Seth, at the wheel of a 26-wheel rig as the Lil’ Red Schoolhouse makes the turn onto Lee Avenue to begin its 11/2-block journey Tuesday morning. The 68-year-old school will travel another half-mile early this morning to its new home in Bullhead Community Park. (BILL McMILLEN/The Daily News)

The Daily News

BULLHEAD CITY — The Lil’ Red Schoolhouse traveled a block and a half Tuesday morning, a prelude to its half-mile trek today to its new home in Bullhead Community Park.

“I’m giddy,” said Lisa McCabe, chief information officer of Golden Vertex, a local mining company overseeing the project to create the Colorado River Heritage Center at the park in northern Bullhead City.

She wasn’t the only one. Several dozen spectators — some who are working on the CRHC project and others just curious to see history in motion — clustered near the schoolhouse before it inched its way down Lee Avenue, from its longtime home near Third Street to an overnight resting place on a vacant lot off Highway 95 between First and Second.

“That was fun, wasn’t it?” asked Roy Dean, of A-Arid State Enterprises, the company moving the schoolhouse. Dean directed the operation as his son, Seth, piloted the 26-wheeled Peterbilt rig slowly down the street.

“Home-moving is unique,” Roy Dean said. “Not everybody can do it. I grew up doing this.”
He said his father started the company; he joined the operation at the age of 12 and eventually took over. He said Seth likely will follow in his footsteps because “it’s in our family’s blood.”
Moving the schoolhouse the short distance appeared to be pretty easy for the A-Arid State crew.

“They’re all a challenge,” Roy Dean insisted. “They all have their idiosyncrasies, big or little.”
By building standards, the Lil’ Red Schoolhouse is relatively small. But that definition of “small” is a brick building weighing about 106,000 pounds. When loaded, the schoolhouse rig was 25 feet wide, 70 feet long and 21 feet high.

The height was an issue getting the schoolhouse out of its original location — the schoolhouse was built in 1947 and opened the next year as the first building for the Bullhead Elementary School District more than 35 years before the city was incorporated. A main cable line for Suddenlink Communications had to be taken down to allow the schoolhouse relocation to begin. Another Suddenlink line had to be taken down in the vacant lot to allow the rig to approach Highway 95. No other utility lines had to be removed, although crews from Mohave Electric Cooperative were on hand in case they were needed. Fortunately, the overhead power lines were well above the schoolhouse’s corrugated tin roof.

Dean said the schoolhouse wasn’t too eager to make the turn onto Lee Avenue at the beginning of its trip.

“Until you make the turn, you really don’t know how it’s going to respond,” he said, noting that the rig had to stop, dollies underneath had to be adjusted and the process had to go extremely slowly as the long load got headed the right direction.

“After that, it was pretty smooth sailing,” he said.

The moving process will resume early this morning when the rig creeps onto Highway 95 for the short trip to the main entrance at Community Park. Because it is traveling on a state highway, the entourage will be accompanied by Arizona Department of Transportation and Department of Public Safety vehicles. Highway 95 will be blocked for a short time — between 5:30 and 6 a.m., if all goes well.

The schoolhouse eventually will wind up in the grassy area at Community Park, where a concrete slab already has been poured.

“Of course, once the building is in its new home, there’s a ton of remaining work, at both the new location, as well as buttoning up the Third and Lee location,” McCabe said earlier. “That is currently being scheduled, with careful consideration of the 30,000 or so people expected to be in Community Park ... (for the Aug. 8 Bullhead City River Regatta).”

Plans for the Heritage Center, which already has the head frame from Moss Mine on site, also include the Colorado River Museum. Museum officials, Dean and Heritage Center planners have discusses options ranging from moving the existing museum from Davis Camp to building a new building to house the museum’s many exhibits, artifacts and historical documents.

The American Heroes Museum and other historic pieces of the Tri-state also could wind up in the Heritage Center.