Friday, March 10, 2017

A Cabin in the Wilderness

When I first started writing my Frontier Bachelors series, I envisioned everyone living in sturdy log cabins surrounded by fir trees. Maybe that vision sprang from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods. Maybe it was my (obsessive) devotion to Here Comes the Brides, the television program loosely based on the Mercer Girls who form the cadre of heroines in my books. Regardless, the more I researched, the more I discovered there are cabins and there are cabins.

Pioneers have ever made use of what was on hand to carve out homes. Early settlers on the plains made sod houses. Some used hollowed-out tree stumps. Here in the Pacific Northwest, it was logical to use logs to construct homes. After all, you had to clear those one hundred and sixty acres you’d claimed. Might as well use the timber for something while you were at it. Waste not, want not.

Most of these houses were square and small, with neither porch nor full-sized second story. The one above was no more than 10 feet square inside, with a sleeping loft overhead accessed by an iron ladder against one wall. Seeing those tight quarters gave me a whole new appreciation for the term “cabin fever.”

Yesler’s mill began sawing that timber into boards in 1852. Many of those boards were shipped south to San Francisco, but some stayed in the area to build homes and businesses. One of the cabins from which I drew my inspiration for the Wallins’ home was made from planed timber. The one at the right appears to be as well.

As time passed and people became more affluent, fancier houses were built. The house owned by Arthur and Mary Denny with its wide porch and bric-a-brac edging the roof  fascinates Maddie O’Rourke. Simon will build such a home for Nora on the ridge above the main clearing. Look for it in Levi’s story next December. Of course, some still built log cabins, bigger and better.

Yeah, I’ll take that cabin in the wilderness.

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