Serendipity in the PITs
Kisatchie National Forest, Winn Ranger District, Louisiana, 1998
by Tim Phillips, Heritage Resources Specialist
Not suspecting what awaited him, Bob Guetzlaff, a PIT volunteer from Minnesota, pulled his RV into the Gum Springs Recreation Area on the Winn Ranger District of the Kisatchie NF about 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 17, 1998. He was looking for a place to spend the night before continuing his round-about trip to a PIT project in Arizona. Tim Phillips, heritage resources specialist for the Winn Ranger District, saw Bob pull into the recreation area. Thinking that Bob might be one of his PIT volunteers who was showing up late for his PIT project to restore the Gum Springs Lookout Tower House, Tim went over to Bob’s campsite and struck up a conversation with him. During the conversation, Tim asked if Bob was a PIT volunteer.
“Yes, I am,” Bob replied.
Notifying Bob of the location of Kisatchie NF’s PIT project, Tim said, “Our project is located over by the lookout tower.”
“That’s fine,” Bob replied, stating that he was on his way to a PIT project in Arizona. Pulling out his copy of the PIT Traveler, Bob said that he hadn’t realized there was a PIT project in Louisiana. While explaining his project, Tim invited Bob to view the house and listen to a slide presentation he was going to give to the PIT volunteers in the morning on the history of the lumber industry in the area and CCC activities during the 1930s on the Kisatchie NF.
The next morning Bob showed up at the Gum Springs Work Center to listen to the slide presentation. After the slide presentation, he was asked if he wanted to participate in the historical tour of the area and in the PIT project to restore the Lookout Tower House. Bob’s response to the invitation was “Yes, if I can get my Passport stamped.” Without hesitation, Tim’s reply was “That’s no problem. I will be more than happy to stamp your Passport if you participate in the project.”
With this informal invitation and his signing of the volunteer agreement form, Bob’s participation in the Kisatchie NF’s PIT project to restore the Gum Spring Lookout Tower House was initiated. As a result of the serendipitous occurrence that put Bob in the right place at the right time, he spent the next four days enjoying the comradeship of his fellow PIT volunteers. He certainly enjoyed the famous Winn District fish fry, and he wrote on the card given to the “PIT boss” at the end of the project: “Great fun—even if you did kidnap me.”