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Building with Logs

One thing about us living in the woods - yes, Kansas has woods - is a desire to utilize logs for living quarters and outbuildings. When I first build here in the late 1970's my initial structure was a walk out basement - designed so that one day I may add logs above.

The one day came in 1990 when Geri spotted an ad for a log home in a Thrifty Nickle while we were in Wyoming playing. I called and what they were offering was a prefab building - something that I didn't feel I wanted to put on my existing foundation. But I called - and the reply was that they could send me the milled logs for whatever design I desired. Well, the result was a semi load of logs delivered to our place in mid November 1990. The winter of 90-91 was the coldest that I had experienced here in Kansas since I arrived here in 1970 - culminating in two weeks running of minus 20° F. in December. COLD! Well, we did it with the full time help of our close friend Argel Pultz (who left us a few years back). February saw me cutting a hole in the roof (now floor) connecting the up to the down.

This sufficed well for several years but it wasn't what I would call a “real” log structure. It was, and is, home and has served us well over the past 15 years or so. But ---

In 1996 or so our young friend Ivan says to me, “John, someday I'd like to head to Alaska and build a log cabin. Can you show me how?” Well, “yeah”, says I. And so began our project of building what turned out to be a 14x16 foot two story structure that I could call my own REAL log cabin. Ivan left me for other interests after we were up a few logs - in fact just about the time that I was ready to turn some of the decision making over to him - and so I got to finish the building mostly by myself. Geri did all of the de-barking and all of the chinking (filling the holes) but I did most all of the logging and laying. Also, I felt that since I was going to the trouble of building one from scratch that I might as well take notes and photos along the way and turn out a book in the process - which I did -

How-to Build this Log Cabin for $3,000

$3,000? - yep! The logs were free. I had the saws, chains, winch n'such. Bought the roof package in it's entirety from a lumber yard. Three doors, several windows and accessories came from yard and farm sales. I pitched the story to Outdoor Life and they questioned whether I could do this for $3,000. I took their shopping list, which they took from the article, and did a full pricing from the lumber yard and the quote was for something around $2,700. They ran it. I did a book. Geri took the cabin and turned it into her workshop - for preparing rawhide lacing and braiding horse gear. (That's material for another page).

Right after I finished that I had some logs from clearing pasture and also a few from a neighbor who had cleared some land. So I build myself a 12x12 foot cabin which I turned into a tool shed.

Then - after repeatedly telling Geri never to let me do this again (I've got a terrible bad back), a local friend offered me a source of logs that I just couldn't say no to. I looked at what he wanted to clear out and saw (for Kansas) the most beautiful, long, large diameter, straight logs imaginable. All in about one acre. Easily accessible. And so, we were at it again. An addition to our main house, coming out 24 ft and as wide as the main part, 20 ft, on a full basement increases our living space a LOT!

A result of this nominal log building experience resulted in a production company out of L.A. working an a project for The History Channel to find us thru our Log Cabin book and to enlist us to gather a crew and build a small scale replica of the fort that Lewis & Clark built in Oregon in December 2005, Fort Clatsop. See info & pix of that build on our Fort Clatsop page.

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