American Trails' 20th National Trails Awards Program honors people and programs at the 20th American Trails National Symposium. The awards celebration was held in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nov. 16, 2010.
This award is for an individual that, like Hulet Hornbeck, exemplifies long-standing vision and wisdom in support of trails.
By Gerry Wilbour, Professional Trailbuilders Assoc.
Carroll Vogel was the most accomplished trail bridge builder of his generation. He didn’t just build a bunch of bridges; he raised the bar to a new level and gave us a new vision of what is possible. He built with the passion and the artistry of a master backcountry craftsman, and created an effective system.
In 1990, after more than a decade of building and repairing trails and bridges in the backcountry for the National Park Service and the Student Conservation Association, Carroll started a private business, “Sahale LLC,” that eventually would become the dominant national designer and builder of recreational cable bridges.
During Carroll’s early measured efforts on suspension bridges owned by the US Forest Service, he focused on building and rebuilding existing ones more efficiently. After reconstructing older bridges in need of repair and learning design techniques, he began to make his own creative adjustments. His own alterations led to reduced costs and the efficient use of materials to make longer spans not only more durable, but more economical.
Of the more than 200 trail bridges he built, Carroll showed us that we are still looking for the boundaries in bridge design. We are still finding new structures, applications, and uses of materials.
In many respects Carroll was several people rolled into one. Some remember him as a musician and fierce conservation activist. Others knew him for his years of teaching traditional backcountry work skills to legions of trail builders. He is credited as being one of the five most influential people in the founding of the Student Conservation Association. He received President Bush’s Point of Light Award in 1989 for his work coordinating the restoration of the Yellowstone National Park trail system after the devastating fires of 1988.
Read "The Bridge Builders Art: A Tribute to Carroll Vogel" for more about his suspension bridge building
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