Station 1: The Log House Lonesome
Certain things had to be done: things like finding a good site protected from severe weather, with a suitable source of drinking water. So here on the banks of Beaverdam Creek in slightly rolling terrain, with the cool spring gently bubbling crystal clear water beneath the shade of a small triple-oak tree, the builders decided this was the place. Within a few weeks the site had been cleared, and enough sturdy chestnut logs had been cut from the surrounding woodlands to build the walls. Many wagon loads of field stones were gathered and hauled to the site to build the foundation piers and huge chimneys and fireplaces. But this was only the beginning.
The chore of hand-hewing my logs into uniform timbers for the walls and roof was a monumental task, requiring great skill and strength. The usual three-step procedure for making wall timbers from logs consisted of (1) placing the dried and cured logs horizontally on a specially built rack about six or eight feet tall, to which they would be clamped in place, while two “sawyers”, one atop the rack and the other below would wield the six-feet-long cross-saw held vertically, so as to convert the round logs into huge rough-cut square timbers to slightly over-sized dimensions, and (2) using a carpenter’s adz to hand hew the rough-cut logs to the desired furnished dimensions. This produces the characteristic chop-marks along the finished surfaces. Then (3) after each log is cut to the desired length, to hand cut the ends with saw and adz to produce the ingenious dove-tail corner joints, so that when assembled into walls they required no pins or pegs and are held in place only by gravity, thus forming tight-fitting secure walls, with the least possible space left between the logs to be chinked with a mixture of clay and sand. The pioneer builders could afford only very limited amounts of mill-finished lumber and building hardware. There simply were no sawmills or metal-working shops anywhere in this area, and without railroads these materials had to be shipped by river boats and hauled many miles by wagons over very primitive trails. So ingenious ways were developed to make, by skilled hand labor from whatever materials could be found, the various hardware items needed to complete a livable dwelling.
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