Steadily churning on the waters of Lake Chelan, in all kinds of weather and conditions during any season you can find a steel barge laden with freight bound for Stehekin and all points thereof. Locally known as “The Barge” this well-known craft carries a you-name-it menagerie of supplies to the ports of Chelan, Stehekin, Lucerne, and many private homeowners and remote cabins along Lake Chelan. Founded by Tom Courtney of Stehekin and serving the area since 1977, the barge service is an essential part of all aspects of community life in our valley.
Fuels for cars and trucks and machinery, stacks of lumber and logs for homes and buildings, vehicles that take up half of the deck or just a small corner, animals of all kinds and their precious hay and feed, the list is as varied as the customer. Moving vans, pallets of flour for the Stehekin Pastry Company, gravel for special projects, trailers tractors and canoes--anything that is too large for the passenger boat arrives in Stehekin from a 55-mile full day trip up Lake Chelan, powered by a 50-foot work boat with two 671 Detroit engines. You may also see the unloading process taking place at the Stehekin Landing with boom trucks, trailers, rolling vehicles and two-legged delivery to valley residents eager to get on with their projects or ready to drive a new (usually used!) rig home.
The crew of Mountain Barge Services LLC is dedicated to accommodating all kinds of projects along the shore of Lake Chelan such as dock work, buoy setting, propane delivery, and even firefighting emergency work. On July fourth, look under the exploding fireworks in Chelan and Manson and find the barge crew sporting the event, keeping the deck as a launch site steadily in place.
Even Stehekin’ s trash is transported down the lake via this vessel. Or, in the spring, you might see the arrival of the pack trip horses for Stehekin Outfitters. In order to help construct Harlequin Bridge, a 85 ton crane was transported on and off the barge. There are countless stories of storms, a missing pig upon arrival, a horse jumping overboard to get to shore faster…. all in a day’s, or make that three day’s work considering the full spectrum of loading, unloading and return trip.
Tom will tell you his business has been challenging, with never a dull moment, but enjoyable. With new plans ahead, Tom says it’s good to expand, provide more jobs, and that no business survives without changing and adapting. There is plenty to relate about Tom’s life work that has made Mountain Barge Services operate smoothly, along with his son Reed's dedicated management and an excellent support crew.
Meet the Team
Founder & CEO
Tom Courtney founded Mountain Barge Services in 1976. In 1978 he bought three wooden barges left over from the mining days at Holden Mine and increased his capabilities to haul larger items. He used this tool to drive numerous piles along the lake-shore including many private docks as well as Forest Service and Park Services camp sites. In 1992 Tom began construction on a new barge built out of steel, constructed in Manson, and was completed and put into service in 1993. Tom has a unique ability to meet and work through difficult challenges faced on most projects in a remote area such as Lake Chelan.
Reed has over 15 years experience working on Lake Chelan and in Stehekin Valley. Reed is a skilled operator with all types of machinery. He is skilled with all barge to shoreline operations including pile driving and dock and cribbing rework. He has extensive experience with crane operation and can operate up to a 45 ton crane. Reed holds a CPR and first aid card as well as his commercial drivers license. He is a certified welder up to the F4 category and unlimited thickness of metal. Reed operates Mountain Barge Services which includes piloting the barge on daily trips, oversees the operation, load and unloads, strategically plans for and is responsible for the safety of the crew and cargo being hauled.