Church members re-erect monument at Nushagak Bay

Posted: Monday, October 09, 2000

DILLINGHAM (AP) -- A monument to faith and determination towers again 40 feet above the ground and can be seen clearly across Nushagak Bay.

The 4,300-pound plywood and fiberglass cross was built to commemorate the site of Nushagak's first Russian Orthodox church. It stood again last month after ferocious winter winds flattened it in February.

The cross was erected last year to mark the spot where the first church was built in 1840. The church was replaced in 1906, and that structure burned in 1982.

''We wanted to make a historical site to mark the first church in the Nushagak Bay,'' church member Steven Shade told the Bristol Bay Times.

Gusty Wahl, another church member, designed and built the cross in Dillingham and then it was towed on two boat harbor floats across the bay.

Last winter's 100-mph winds strained the support lines, and the cross toppled and slid 60 feet down a hill.

About 30 volunteers spent three weekends last month readying a new base and re-erecting the cross in a different spot.

''Apparently God didn't like where it was sitting because he blew it right over,'' Shade said. ''Hopefully he likes (the new location), because I don't know if I want to go back to stand it up again.''

Nushagak is about six miles south of Dillingham.

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