Idaho January 01, 2017
These 11 Historic Log Cabins In Idaho Are Too Quaint For Words
Standing as photogenic springboards for the imagination, log cabins always seem to serve as the settings for key moments in American history. They remind us of a simpler time, and of the hardworking ethic that we as Idahoans pride ourselves on. While it’s impossible to know which cultural group was the first to fashion felled and cut logs into cozy, down-home-style shelters, even today the remnants of significant historical log cabins are scattered throughout the state. Some seem to ooze with history, others have been restored, while still others (and their stories) have fallen victim to the passage of time. Few were built to be permanent structures, but nevertheless, they remain the unique, rustic products of our local history. Let’s take a look at some of our state’s time-worn gems, both known and forgotten.
1. Pioneer Cabin, Sun Valley
As the ending destination of one of the region's favorite hikes, the Pioneer Cabin is both inspirational, beautiful, and treasured. Tucked 3000 feet into the mountains surrounding Sun Valley, the pinnacle of a winding hike is a crest that spits hiking visitors out into a beautiful field overlooking the Pioneer Mountains, punctuated only by an old cabin with this phrase painted on its roof: "The higher you get, the higher you get," a statement which every dedicated hiker knows to be true.
The building itself is dilapidated, but beloved by locals. It was built in 1938 by Sun Valley Co. to make skiing in the Pioneer Mountains more accessible, but has since been abandoned and is visited mostly in the summer by lovers of the hike's snowy, meadowy vista.
2. Salmon Cabin, Stanley
If you look closely, you can see the headwaters of the Salmon river to the left of this old, dilapidated cabin as the Sawtooths ride up in the background. Sadly, the story of this handbuilt beauty has long faded into obscurity.
3. Idaho Power Company, Sun Valley
This charming log front building and its historic water wheel are a reminder of Idaho life before modern electricity generation. Now fenced off, the vibrant red facade is a replica of the first power station in the valley.
4. McCall Fire Warden's House
In 1937, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built seven structures for the Southern Idaho Timber Protective Association. Today the buildings are owned by the Central Idaho Historical Museum, the crowning jewel of which is the Fire Warden's House. This three-story log structure is a stunning example of rustic, mountain architecture with a Finnish influence--a trait common to Valley County. The house's interior woodwork is beautifully crafted and the furnishings are all original.
5. Stanley Ranger Station
Originally a forest ranger station, which stood in use from 1909-1932, this historic cabin has since been transformed into a museum-- the "Sawtooth Interpretive And Historical Association." The cabin was a headquarters for the Salon-Challis National Forest when it was first established, but was officially replaced by a larger ranger station in 1971.
6. Johnny Sack Cabin, Island Park
Idaho's portion of West Yellowstone is an overlooked haven that is home to many of the same natural wonders that America's first National Park has become famous for, but on a much smaller scale. Included in this list of wonders is Big Springs--a uniquely clear natural spring that rises up out of the earth, and is the largest of its kind in the country. Here, you'll also find the historic Johnny Sack Cabin, which is a picture-perfect testament to the unique historical figure of the same name.
Johnny Sack and his famous cabin go back over 80 years. A small-statured German immigrant and skilled woodworker, Johnny Sack built his own cabin and all of its furniture by hand using a special technique that allowed him to leave the bark on. Total, the cabin took three years to complete. Set on the shores of the crystal-clear water of Big Springs, it looks straight out of a postcard.
7. Bristol Cabins, Lava Hot Springs
Tucked away in Lava Hot Springs on the Hudspeth cutoff from the Oregon Trail, Bristol Park was originally a stagecoach stop along the historically renowned trail west. The first known owners of the property were the Bristol brothers and their families, who purchased the land in 1905 and rented cabins to local ore miners.
After the death of one of the brothers, his wife, Susie, turned the mining camp into a resort called Bristol Tourist Park. Today, these darling cabins focus on sustainability and organic gardening as part of every visitor's stay.
8. Thomas Sleight Cabin, Paris
The Thomas Sleight Cabin was built in 1863 by Thomas Sleight and Charles Atkins, who with their wives, creating the first permanent settlement in Paris. Crude and built out of necessity before the harsh winter came, the original cabin was first finished with a dirt floor and a sod roof. The logs were stripped of bark, but not cut or shaped--instead, mud was added to keep out the wind.
9. Stricker Rock Creek Station and Homesite, Hansen
The Stricker Store and the Stricker home are all that remain of the Rock Creek Stage Station that was once an important part of the Oregon Trail. Urban legends dating back to the late 1800s report that Lucy Stricker murdered her husband in their bedroom, and that specters of both figures still haunt the home, appearing late at night to passerby and making their presence known via distant, swinging lanterns in the small cemetery not too far away. The ancient, smeared blood on the stairs only adds to the tale.
10. Nez Perce Indian Agency Cabin, Spalding
Whenever the government established a relationship with a native tribe, a symbol of that relationship was the Indian agent, who was responsible for meeting the details of established treaties. The Nez Perce Historical Park was no exception, and you can easily put more than 1,100 miles on your car driving to all the park’s destinations and historical sites.
The Indian Agency cabin at Spalding was the first of its kind, and was part of an effort to better the liing cconditions of the agents, who previously were only offered bare bones structures. This cabin, alongside the Green House, are the only two surviving buildings of the agency period on the NPHP trail. 11. Trapper Cabin
Recently the victim of a tragic vandalism incident, the Trapper Cabin is a truly unique piece of Idaho history that sits hidden in the French Creek Trailhead on the McCall Ranger District of the Payette National Forest. The quaint abode was built in 1936 and is Rocky Mountain log style: peeled lodge pole pine logs and mud chinking. Up until recently, the cabin was in the process of being restored from the damage.
How many of these log cabins have you been to? What other historic gems are scattered throughout Idaho? Share the details so we can check them out!