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Category Archives: Log Cabins

I draw on the windows to keep the spruce hens from flying into the windows and breaking them.
This cabin kitchen turned out nice
Custom drawer.
Beginning to peel this "first cut" Birch slab from our sawmill.
Beginning to peel this "first cut" Birch slab from our sawmill.

Dwellings are a very important part of Sourdough Culture. We are fortunate to have a collection of historic cabins in this area. Kenai Kasilof, & Soldotna all have cabin parks, cabin museums and other preserved buildings.

Dean & I have done two historic cabin repairs over the years. Recently we restored a roof on a cabin in Kenai. Several years ago we replaced a rotten base log in a cabin in Soldotna’s Cabin Park. We have to be careful to keep historically accurate in our repairs.

I enjoy working on these old buildings. I’m touching wood, trees that were living in the 1800’s. It’s standing history that I get to play a tiny role in protecting. Think about all the happenings that these buildings survived. Everyday human events, epic volcanic eruptions. The biggest earthquake in Alaska’s history. Three major cultures: local first peoples the Dena ‘ina Athabascan, Russian traders and settlers, then other English speaking settlers evolving into Americans. All have left their indelible marks locally.

1896 Russian Orthodox Church,
Old Towne Kenai, Alaska.

Often you can still see the cut marks from hand hewing. And the craftsmanship is always an adventure. I love the dovetailed corners on many of these old cabins. Some have no spikes holding them together only joinery. Chinked with moss or mud, long gone over with the passing of time. Some have been restored and continue as dwellings today. Others are preserved for posterity, lest we forget where we came from.

Corner joinery detail at Veronica’s Cafe. Another historic cabin in Kenai.

In the era these old cabins were built, there were no lumberyards or metal shops around. Trees were cut and hewn for walls and roof supports but there’s nothing suitable for sheathing. So these resilient old souls hauled sod up and covered their roofs with living material. Complete with wildflowers. This shed the weather reasonably well and kept the cabins warm in the winter, cool in the summer.

1898 cabin with similar corner dovetails.

Another standout detail of these old homes was the overall height. These buildings were shorter than typical modern buildings. Doors between 4-5 feet tall, walls under 8′, often 6′ or shorter. Materials to build were hard to come by, it took brute strength and a lot of elbow grease to build. So making shorter buildings helped conserve energy. Mostly these smaller structures were easier to keep warm. After all, you really only needed a space for your meager belongings, a bed to sleep in, some place for your dogs and stay out of the severe cold.

Homestead shed, used to have a sod roof. Just about to become the latest victim of bluff erosion.
The cabin we repaired, looking good as new, err, I mean good as old.
History of this little cabin.

Hand hewn cabins are one of my greatest loves in architecture. Our modern day construction technology may be different but the same love and care goes into each log I prep for a cabin I’m building.

An old homestead cabin near Nikiski. Complete with sleeping loft and a king crab carapace.
Wind blew off most of the metal & tar paper.

I’m working our booth at the KPBA Home Show. It’s our annual chance to mingle with the general public and show off our handiwork.

Our best way to see what’s available in the area for home improvement! It’s a favorite for kids since all the vendors have 🍬🍭 candy giveaways. Lots of fun for everyone.

Can a wood stove classify as a sourdough? If so, this old boy is high on the list. Someone’s handiwork, made of plate steel, it sported a 2″ boiler valve on the backside which we’ve determined was for air intake and long ago plugged off with ash build up. This old stove has kept Dad & his cabin warm for more than 30 years. (The floor was unpainted under the metal disks the legs sat on. I know he painted the floor right before I visited in ’92.)

This stove was repurposed from another location and at the time was a big improvement from what Dad had, which, for a while, was a homemade 55 gal barrel stove . In the true sourdough spirit, you use what you have until you can upgrade. Often those improvements were found, made, repurposed or gifted to you. You just weren’t in the position to go buy a brand new replacement nor able to haul it out easily. And all too often sourdoughs used some awful sketchy wood stove setups!

Besides having a small fire box and just not burning through the night, the old thing was so leaky we always seemed to smoke ourselves right out. Every time you opened the front door of the cabin a big puff of smoke would come out from the middle seam of the stove doors. Even with new gaskets it would still belch out smoke.

The old grumpy honeybee.

It does have the benefit of a cooktop and plenty of space for the water pots. And it’s hell bent for stout. It will have a new purpose to be sure.

Empty stove corner.

We wrestled the heavy old thing out to make room for our new-to-us Earth Stove. I scored this one off Facebook marketplace from a nice fella named Dave. I’ll admit, being able to drive right out with it in the back of our truck made replacing this stove possible. I can’t image trying to pack it in any other way.

Smaller footprint, larger firebox!

There’s just enough room for the two water pots on top of this stove. Or one water pot and the coffee pot. Priorities.

Come spring we’ll pull this stove outside, remove the rust and re-black it. It will look like new! Maybe we’ll paint the floor too.?.?

The old stove will make our new shop nice and warm next winter. That is, if we get it built this summer. 😉 A place where we don’t have to worry about things like smoke leaking out and such. The old boy will go on to warm us for a long while.

So much fun. We went out to Dad’s cabin last night. I got to share my Quiet Riot with my Seester.

Me & Cletus by the fire pit.

Then on our way home we spent some time stopping to take pictures and explore. It was great fun.

At Discovery Overlook.

We saw a sow black bear and her cub at Stormy Lake day use area. That was pretty cool.

Mama bear, she hid her cub.

We stopped at an old cabin that’s for sale on the highway near the bluff. I’ve wanted to stop there for years and just never have taken the time.

One acre of scenic bluff view!!

We stopped at Three Bears for a few groceries, and a bear trap.

It was a great day of experiences with my Seester. So thankful for this opportunity.

#thankful #grateful #blessed #seester