Every once in a while, history collides with just another day at work.
A Day in the Life Feature Article
A call came in, late September 1997, to move a structure from Malmstrom Air Force base in Montana, to Sacramento, California. Whitewood Transport Owner Operator Bill Sprout took the job.
A routine job . . . except that the call came from the Federal defender’s office . . . except that the shipment was a small cabin . . . except that the destination was the Mather Air Field where the cabin would be kept in storage till it was needed in the court case of its previous resident, Theodore Kaczynski. The “Unabomber” was awaiting trial in Sacramento.
FBI agents had raided the shack in April 1996 and took evidence linking Kaczynski to the Unabomber bombings which killed 3 people and injured 29. More than a year later, jurors in the California trial needed to view the cabin used to stage 16 known attacks from 1978 until Kaczynski’s apprehension in 1996. The 13’ by 13’ shack with no running water, no electricity and a only a small stove for heat is believed to be the cabin where Ted Kaczynski wrote his manifesto and built package bombs designed to detonate when opened.
Bill Sprout arrived at Malmstrom Air Force Base on December 2nd, 1997, to prepare for a transport that would become a national media spectacle. The cabin had been stored on the base for over a year, was structurally sensitive and difficult to load. The planned route was from Malmstrom to Pocatello, Idaho, and then to Nevada, and finally Sacramento, California, where it would be stored awaiting trial.
From the trip’s outset, Bill was pursued by the news media, photographers, and the public eager to see the legendary cabin as it passed. Cars honked, people parked on the shoulder of the road, and nearly everyone had a camera pointed at the truck. Ultimately, police escorts were engaged to provide security for the transport as well as the public. Bill drove only during daylight hours and took back roads through towns where possible to avoid onlookers.
Bill Sprout pulled in to Mather Air Field on Friday of that week under escort and without incident. The cabin was safely stored. For Bill, it was arguably the journey of a lifetime. For Whitewood, it was a job successfully completed.