Building Brushyhenge II
January - April 2006

Items on this page:
Trip #1 - January 28, 2006 - Teardown Begins
Trip #2 - February 4, 2006 - Rebuild Begins
Trip #3 - February 11, 2006
Trip #4 - February 18, 2006
Trip #5 - February 26, 2006
Trip #6 - March 4, 2006
Trip #7 - March 11, 2006
Trip #8 - March 16, 2006
Trip #9 - March 25 & 26, 2006
Trip #10 - April 1, 2006
Trip #11 - April 4, 2006
Trip #12 - April 8 & 9, 2006 - FINISHED!! 

Background On The Original Brushyhenge & Past Pictures

Trip #1 - January 28, 2006

On January 28th, 2006 the initial teardown efforts began. Dad and I were joined by our friend Mark Holland and by my childhood friend Jason Hale and his wife Mykala and their two children. The North Texas area hadn't had a decent rain in months, but the skies finally decided to open up on that particular day. We all quickly became soaked to the bone, but it was a day none of us will ever forget. Yeah, it was a little bitter sweet tearing down that neat ol' structure, but it turned out to be a heck of a fun day. It felt great to work in the rain and who knew that hammering at old boards could feel so therapeutic. Even with the downpour we managed to get the benches removed as well as the railing. We loaded the old wood into the bed of our Jeep Scrambler and I drove it to the Compound area for use as firewood. When I snapped the picture of dad standing alone on the bench-less deck, it was absolutely pouring on him. Ah, good times.

Trip #2 - February 4, 2006

It was a beautiful day at Brushyland for the second day of work on Brushyhenge. Dad drove me and Chuck Mandernach to the land. Sarah Hendrix and her son, Spencer, met us at the Crandall Cotton Gin for breakfast and then followed us to Brushyland. Later that afternoon, Diane and Glen Smith and their three boys joined the fun. We first removed the floorboards, then we tore down the old posts and support beams. Next we carefully positioned several concrete pads on the ground and erected the very crucial, center support beam which points due West. Tear-down of the old Brushyhenge has been completed; the building of Brushyhenge II has begun.

Spencer worked his tail off helping us tear off the old floorboards.

Dad & Chuck inspect the old support beams - just before we tore them down.

All the wood used in the original Brushyhenge has been torn down and taken to the Compound area for use as firewood. The center support beam for Brushyhenge II has been erected. (not pictured are Diane Smith and Sarah Hendrix)

The original Brushyhenge in its new location

Trip #3 - February 11, 2006

It was cold and windy on the third day of work. The temperatures were in the upper 30's for much of the day and the wind gusts reached 45 mph! Yikes. Just three of us made it out that day: me, dad & Chuck Mandernach. At one point, we had just put up another long 4x6 beam next to the center beam when a large wind gust knocked down every post and every beam! Luckily no one was hurt by the massive beams crashing down to the ground. Chuck's cap was blown 20 feet off his head by the gust. We had a pretty good laugh at our misfortune and quickly put it all back together. By the end of the day, much of the underpinning was securely in place - and the familiar outline of Brushyhenge was becoming recognizable once again.

Trip #4 - February 18, 2006

Well, the wind was a bit more calm for our fourth day of work, but the temperatures were a bit chilly to say the least. It was in the upper 20's and low 30's much of the day - with light drizzle and sleet. Good times! With the proper attire (long-johns and warm coats) it really wasn't that bad. Even with the cold weather we managed to get quite a bit of work done. We screwed on several metal "L" brackets to secure the floor supports to the vertical posts, and basically all the underpinning is done now.

Over the years dad has become a master craftsman with the chainsaw. We don't need no stinkin' circular saw! Actually, we may use a portable generator to supply power to a circular saw when it comes time to make a clean cut along the edges of the floorboards. But for most things, a chainsaw will do - especially in the hands of Dan Stone. In the above picture, a portion of a 2x6 angled support board was sticking up above the main 4x6 center beam which it was connected to. So dad turned his chainsaw on its side and cut the nub off to make everything flush. That's Chuck observing - with pencil in mouth.

You can't see it, but I had the cordless drill in my right hand - trying to screw a support bracket in place to securely hold a floor support. That was quite a tight area to work in!

Most of the underpinning is now in place. Soon the floorboards will go down. In fact, not long after this picture was taken we laid 20 or so boards on the stucture and climbed up to take a look at the horizon. It sure is a nice view! Near the front of the structure, it's a couple of feet higher than the original Brushyhenge.

Trip #5 - February 26, 2006

The folks from Smith Lumber in Athens delivered several 24-foot long 2x6's the day before this picture was taken. But it was raining so hard that they couldn't get their truck up Dead Car Trail to the Brushyhenge worksite. So they dropped the boards off at the Compound area. The next day we hooked several of them to a four wheeler and hauled them up to Brushyhenge. It was a hoot. Those big ol' boards must weigh 60 pounds each!

This is a shot of dad and Chuck positioning a floor support. We decided that the structure needed more floor supports, so we ended up adding ten more support boards.

Dad would periodically check the angles of things. For the latitude that Brushyland is at, the sun cuts a 56-degree swath on the horizon during the year. That angle figures into Brushyhenge in several places.

After a long hard day of work, Chuck decided to relax a little on the floorboards we just screwed in place.

This is how Brushyhenge II looked after we were finished that day. We still have several more floorboards to screw down, but things are starting to take shape.

Trip #6 - March 4, 2006

The weather was really good for us again - and I burned the back of neck just like the previous week. I must remember to wear sunscreen! For lunch dad grilled us some wonderful brats (with chili). We ate them on the almost-completed deck. Dad and Richard & Byron Dowd ate hotdogs on the deck of the original Brushyhenge 22 years ago while they were working on it.

Dad is using my new DeWalt cordless circular saw to trim up the floorboards. The angle of that cut is crucial - the edge he was working on should point directly at the most northern position the sun sets during the year. The opposite side will point to the southern position.

We usually cut our boards with either a chainsaw or a cordless circular saw. But every once in awhile only a handsaw will do. And Chuck was dang good at using it.

This is how Brushyhenge II looked after we were done that day. We got all the floorboards screwed into place - and trimmed up. And we mounted the fascia boards around the perimeter, although we still need to add some hidden bracing to make them more secure. After that, we have the rails, steps and benches left to work on. The benches will probably take quite awhile to complete.

Trip #7 - March 11, 2006

We had a few more helping hands this trip. It was a hoot. Chuck brought his friends Barb, Sara and Carlos. And dad and I brought Dick McSpedden and his grandson, Spencer. We put several more screws in the floorboards - including a center line of screws that points due west. And we got most of the railing up.

Chuck describes the structure to Barb, his friend from Iowa.

Dick McSpedden drives in a floor board screw as Spencer and Barb watch.

Dad gives instructions to Sara.

Dad, Carlos and Chuck work on the railing.

Trip #8 - March 16, 2006

Dad and I heard that heavy rain was expected in the Dallas and Brushyland areas during the upcoming weekend, so we decided to sneak out to Brushyland on a Thursday - before the rains hit. It was a wise decision - Dallas was pounded by a 10 inch rain that weekend and Brushyland got around 2 inches too. Dad and I got the rest of the railing up and we placed several concrete pads on the ground which we will cover with wood to serve as steps. Those heavy concrete pads needed to be very level and both columns of pads needed to be at the same height. My back aches just thinking about working with those things...

Trip #9 - March 25 & 26, 2006

Dad and Chuck Mandernach spent the weekend at Brushyland. My buddy, Matt McCullough, had his annual "Men's Fishing Weekend" at his lake house on Cedar Creek Lake that weekend so I spent most of my time at the lake. We had a ball. But I did show up at Brushyland on Sunday afternoon to lend a hand. Dad and Chuck did a nice job finishing the steps while I was fishing at Cedar Creek Lake. They added a lot of sand & gravel near the bottom step so that it wouldn't be such a tall step. I bet that involved a lot of digging - I'm glad I was at the lake during that :) We got a good start on the benches - the benches will be our last major task.

Trip #10 - April 1, 2006

My buddy Neil Sanders happened to be back in the Texas area so we recruited him to help with the Brushyhenge rebuilding efforts. We got Chris Agnes to lend a hand too. Neil, Chris, my dad, and I spent most of the day out there working on Brushyhenge - and we were met by Jeff Cotten and by Chuck Mandernach and his grandson Bo. Jeff had recently moved to the Tyler area so hopefully we'll be seeing more of him and his family.

Brad, Neil & Chris

Dan fixin' to make a cut

Neil did a lot of screwin' that day

The underpinings for the benches are now in place

Trip #11 - April 4, 2006

Dad and I played hooky from work on a Tuesday and headed to Brushyland for the eleventh day of work on Brushyhenge. The weather was forecasted to be beautiful - which it was - so we just couldn't resist. It was a great trip. Dad and I made good progress on the benches. Nearly every board on the benches has to be specially cut to make it fit correctly - so the benches will take another trip or two to complete. Fun work though!

Trip #12 - April 8 & 9, 2006

Well, all good things must end - and this endeavor was damn good. It was fun building yet another Brushyland structure with dad and our friends. It took 12 separate trips to Brushyland over the course of just over two months. Whether the weather was cold or hot, calm or windy - we had a ball building this thing. Dad came up with one heck of a unique design 22 years ago - Brushyhenge II is just as thought provoking as the original.

Dad and I worked out there all day Saturday. We needed a few more 2x4's to complete the benches so we decided not to spend the night (it was a little warm anyway). We got a good night's sleep in our own beds and then went to Home Depot Sunday morning to get more boards; we picked up Chuck along the way too. The three of us spent all of Sunday finishing the benches and cleaning up the work site (i.e. bringing excess boards and supplies down to the Compound area). Our last day on the project was beautiful - breezy and a high of 77. We couldn't have asked for a prettier day. By the end of the day we were all very tuckered - but thrilled with the structure we had built. Good times...

The first picture on the completed Brushyhenge II

Windows Media Player Video Clips
If you don't have the latest version of the Windows Media Player you can get the free version by clicking
here. On some connections, the video may be a bit jerky as it "buffers" while streaming in the video.   In that case you might let it completely finish and then play it again.

Getting the long boards up to the worksite - February 26, 2006 (47 seconds)
Sawing the floorboards - March 4, 2006 (51 seconds)
Dad dancing on the deck - March 4, 2006 (31 seconds)
An MP4 version of the above vided of Dad dancing on deck (18 seconds)
Dad & Brad working on the benches - April 8, 2006 (32 seconds)
Dad & Brad working on the benches - April 8, 2006 (35 seconds)
The finished Brushyhenge II - April 9, 2006 (37 seconds)

Background On The Original Brushyhenge

Fall 1984

How The Original Brushyhenge Got Its Name
Back in the Fall of 1984, my dad decided to build a sunset viewing platform on one of our favorite hillsides at Brushyland. Dad had owned the land for six years and we had nicknamed that hill, Sunset Hill, because of the wonderful view of the setting sun. Up until this point we had watched the sunset while seated in folding chairs and on blankets. This was fine, but dad had something else in mind. He wanted a comfortable gathering spot that felt rustic and informal yet warm and comfortable. Oh, and he wanted to build-in some astronomical properties too. LOL. During construction one of our good friends, Joy Gill, was battling cancer. Joy had been to Brushyland several times so while visiting her in the hospital one day, dad described the strange, new platform he was building. She cleverly nicknamed it Brushyhenge - an homage to the famous 5,000 year old Stonehenge in England. Joy passed away a few months later, having never seen the finished structure. But the memory of her and of Brushyhenge will live on for a very long time.

How It Was Built
The main builders of the original Brushyhenge were dad, Don Hale, Richard Dowd and myself. There will be at least a dozen folks helping to rebuild it - a testament to how the 22-year-old structure touched people. Dad designed the original Brushyhenge so that it faced due West. The front, right rail pointed to the furthest South the sun sets during the year (a.k.a. the Winter Solstice), and the left rail pointed to the furthest North the sun sets during the year (the Summer Solstice). The leading edges of the benches also pointed to these two solar positions. We will incorporate these celestial aspects into Brushyhenge II. In fact, the new Brushyhenge will be very similar to the old one. But there will be a few changes. First, Brushyhenge II will be slightly larger. The old one was roughly 20 feet long and 20 feet wide; the new one will be 24 feet by 24 feet. The old one was built out of rough cedar, with support posts sunk in concrete. The new one will be built of treated pine with posts resting on concrete pads. We will place the concrete pads nearly level with the ground so they won't show up very much. A few of the original posts had rotted inside their holes thus weakening the entire structure. By keeping the posts above ground we hope to avoid that this time. The shear weight of the structure will keep it from moving off the concrete pads, but as an added precaution we will use earth anchors to secure it firmly in place.

Past Brushyhenge Pictures
Click the below thumbnail pictures to see some pictures of the original Brushyhenge. One day I'd like to create a page containing dozens of old and new Brushyhenge pictures.

Thanksgiving 1984

Summer 1985

Spring 1986

Thanksgiving 1991

March 1998

January 2001

October 2001

November 2001

November 2001

January 2002

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