CASHMERE — Childhood memories of ReBecca and Brad Cazzanigi include the Captain Stoffel Waterwheel turning daily at the Cashmere Museum and Pioneer Village.
Then it would run on weekends, ReBecca Cazzanigi said — and, eventually, not at all. But for the first time in five years, the waterwheel will turn.
A months-long restoration project means the wheel will run for Apple Days the first weekend of October. It’ll then shut off again until the spring, when it’ll be on during museum hours.
ReBecca Cazzanigi, retail manager and event coordinator for the museum, said she asked at work why the wheel had stopped turning.
“They said, ‘Well, the mechanics all work, but the paddles are too rotten,’” she said. “So when they turned it, it was starting to clank and fall apart. As Brad was helping me lock up one day, he goes, ‘Somebody really ought to restore that.’ I said, ‘Sounds like you’re volunteering.’”
Her parents, Rich and Toddi Morneau, have also gotten involved with the project. So have her sons and museum employee Brittany Becker McIntire and her family.
The waterwheel was built on the Wenatchee River in 1897 to provide irrigation to an 80-acre homestead. Seventeen years later, steamboat captain Paul Stoffel acquired 13 of those acres — along with the waterwheel, which he began rebuilding.
The wheel was in constant use from 1914-55, but high water warped some of the large foundation timbers. A 1972 flood undermined more of the foundation; the wheel canted off-center, damaging the spokes and water-carrying flumes.
Restoration work started in April on the waterwheel, which was moved to the museum in 1973.
An anonymous donor provided the new lumber, which has now been preserved with rosewood oil. Wenatchee-based Tacoma Screw Products donated the hardware.
“This project, one person could not do it,” Brad Cazzanigi said. “There is no way. Between pulling the boards off and unbolting, you have to have someone on the other end holding, establishing them back up there when there’s no paddles. It’s very flimsy until all the crossmembers and stuff are back on. It takes two, and in some of these ... it took all four of us to get certain pieces on at times.”
Getting the wheel to turn again was the major goal, but there was more work to be done.
The uprights are being removed to give a better view of the spokes. The museum hopes to build out the viewing deck to get visitors closer to the wheel, as well as add a flume display.
Signs will be added to tell the waterwheel’s story and historical use, and the gear box will be upgraded.
“It’s just so weathered and worn, you can’t read any of the signage very well from the viewing platform,” ReBecca Cazzanigi said. “What we’re going to do is keep the roof over it and either leave it open or put UV-protected Plexiglas around it so people can see the gear mechanics moving.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up at wwrld.us/2kJzkrS for the restoration project, and the museum also hopes to create a maintenance fund.
“It’s special to Cashmere,” ReBecca Cazzanigi said. “People are always stopping to take pictures, and once it’s turning again, it’s going to be that much more eye-catching.”