Carli Loucks Byrer was in second grade when her family packed up and left Ceour d’Alene, Idaho to live and work at a logging camp in Rowan Bay on Kuiu Island, west of Petersburg.
Byrer reminisces with her mother Jackie Loucks about that first flight into the forest of Southeast Alaska and the small community around the logging camp. The family moved into one trailer at the camp and Byrer started attending school there, made up of two trailers pushed together for the 30 kids in kindergarten through eighth grades.
Byrer has fond memories of the people in the camp, the other kids and playing on the beach and the surrounding woods. In one story she tells of riding her bike with her younger sister on the front. Her sister fell, caught her leg in the wheel of the bike and ended up breaking it, leading to a float plane ride to the hospital in Sitka.
Byrer has no regrets about growing up in a remote logging camp, other than moving from place to place. She frequently felt like the “new kid” at the camps and the newcomers were stuck in the worst housing in the community. She also talks about what people did to pass the time, reading many books, watching taped movies, listening to the radio and playing endless board games.
Byrer and Loucks also talk about moving to another camp at Port Alice on Hecata Island, and then to a larger logging operation at Coffman Cove on Prince of Wales Island.
Byrer moved to Petersburg in 1988 and spent three years in high school here. She’s now raising her kids in Petersburg and working in the Petersburg schools