Not to worry, Moondance Diner will be fine
by Dawn Ballou, Editor, Pinedale Online!
January 7, 2008
Editor’s Note: We have bad news and good news. By now many of you have heard the reports about the collapse of the Moondance Diner last Thursday (January 3). The same AP story has been floating around over several sources now giving the impression the Moondance is wrecked, so we want to put out some fresh details on what happened to reassure any of you who are worried about this latest development for the Moondance Diner, and let you know this isn’t a disaster.
Workers have been preparing the building to get it ready to be craned over to the foundation, which was planned for sometime later this month. Most everything had been removed from the inside, new supports welded to the undercarriage. The multiple layers of old flooring have been removed and the floor stabilized. We had one of those Wyoming winter snowstorms come through and heavy snow caused the roof and walls to unexpectedly collapse in on themselves like a house of cards. Fortunately, none of the workers inside were hurt. The floor held and they were able to duck out of the way. “It held enough to save them and give them room to get out,” owner Cheryl Pierce said.
The good news is this just hastens what was already planned anyway, and saves the cost of the crane bill to boot! The plan all along has been to disassemble and salvage what they can of the structure, which is not in the best of shape, and rebuild according to the blueprint specifications of the 1983 incarnation of the Moondance Diner. The collapse makes things a whole lot easier to work on getting the framework of the building to match the specifications from the blueprints and not have to work around years of reconstruction and modifications to the building by various owners over time while the diner was in New York.
Cheryl quickly got over the shock and moved to looking at it philosophically. “I’m glad it happened early on,” Cheryl said when we spoke with her about it. “From a construction point of view, it allows us to get everything all up to code more easily now. We’ll put all the original pieces we can back to it.” She said she is trying to stay positive about it and she doesn’t want people to worry about this. “We just doing things in a different order now! It couldn’t have happened at a better time.”
There has always been a concern with the original building as to whether or not it was structurally sound to withstand Wyoming’s wind and snow loads. Now we know the answer to that one. The collapse and need to rebuild so much from scratch will allow them to make sure all the supports are done properly and are structurally sound for the diner’s new home in LaBarge where it won’t have the protection of neighboring skyscrapers and buildings to buffer it from the elements like it did in its home in New York.
“The weight of the sign was a big concern for us,” Cheryl said. The sign has been carefully stored in their garage for safekeeping since the diner arrived from New York. Now they can build the roof construction properly and not have to worry about working around the old questionable building framework.
Things will run more quickly now, Cheryl added. They may even be able to open sooner than they had planned because of the helpful change in the construction schedule by the guardian angels looking over the progress of the project. “It was a shock when it happened, but I have no ‘give up’ in me. We’re just as determined as ever to move forward rebuilding the Moondance Diner,” she said.
What’s next? They are waiting for a 20 degree day so they can pour the foundation. Temperatures have been between minus 20 to 18 degrees, which is very typical of January in Wyoming. Once that is set, they will be able to start the building reconstruction. A new addition for the kitchen and bathroom is being built in a factory offsite and will be brought in pre-built.
Another interesting thing that happened last week is Cheryl got a call from the man who built the beautiful Moondance Diner sign, Jim Rogers. He lives in New Jersey now and called because he has been hearing the reports of the Moondance’s move and their restoration plans for the building. He offered to help however he can. He said he thought he could round up some sketches and original blueprints. He may be able to help them rebuild or find a new motor for the revolving sign too! And coolest of all, he said he thinks he might even have a box somewhere of the original shiny “flickers” that were used to make up the lettering of the name on the sign!
“We haven’t lost any of the history,” Cheryl said, “We’re just adding more to the story!”
We welcome reader's comments. Writer Dawn Ballou can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org