Letter to the Editor

Cloverdale park benefits from cabin's revival

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

To the Editor:

The logs for the Cloverdale Park Log Cabin went up nearly as fast as they came down a few weeks before Saturday, July 21.

The original plan was to manually reconstruct the log home the way it was done 168 years ago. After Glen Vickroy brought the first of three loads of donated beams and boards from sawmills Cook Lumber Co., Pike Lumber Co., and Hartman Sawmill, the construction team soon realized the 900 pounds of beams would require a plan B. This included the much safer and more efficient use of Eric Hayman's hydraulic lifting machinery.

In preparation for the volunteer "cabin raising" master dovetail cutter, Greg Carrison, had made several precise cuts in the ends of the new logs, while Lee Stewart honed his skills to make the new logs appear aged.

Further preparation had been accomplished by the donation of time and labor by Rob Schroer and concrete by Cash Concrete to dig and prepare the footers to accept the reconstructed cabin.

On the reconstruction day, a dozen excellent volunteers and interested citizens were present including: Ted Hawkins and John Berry representing the Cloverdale Park Board; Don Sublett, City Council President; Wilena and Gary Hankins, former cabin owners; members of the Swope Family, the last family to actually live in the cabin; members of the sponsoring organization, the Putnam County Heritage Preservation Society; and many other interested residents of the Cloverdale Community.

Since the cabin's revival, carpenter Tom Bixler has added his needed knowledge and labor to assist Ted Hawkins and Lee Stewart, HPS Project Director, in the construction of the rafters and sheeting for the roof. Authentic shake shingles have now been added.

With the loan of Billy Boswell's nail gun, Eric Hayman's continue donation of the hydraulic lift, the cabin has almost returned to its original shape of 168 years ago.

The volunteers and residents have been impressed with how square and level the cabin was and is today, particularly since it still rests on only four rocks. The accuracy and design of the dovetailed corners added to the tightness and superior condition of the logs.

Yet, as Lee Stewart observed, "It has been interesting to observe the mistakes that were made in 1839 in the notching of the first row of logs. "

Lee continued, "These errors were noticed and adjustments made in the new logs."

Further, an unusually large gap existed between the last and next to last logs probably because the big trees found close to the cabin had already been used and winter was close at hand. One could almost hear the log cutter's exasperated comments as the construction continued, over 100 years ago, and as modern day mistakes were made.

As the reconstruction project continues, the two front steps will be provided by a large piece of limestone quarried in 1834 in Putnamville and donated by the Putnamville United Methodist Church. As the planned completion date of the end of August nears, there still remain several items that need attention; both wooden and hard chinking placed between the logs for weatherproofing; pressure washing prior to chinking; preservative and a general clean-up of the work site. Perhaps the easiest and most time consuming need is the removal of thousands of tacks in the interior side of the logs.

The success and anticipated completion of this exciting addition to the Cloverdale City Park has been made possible by the enthusiastic donation of time and hard work on the part of the volunteers from Cloverdale and the supervision of Lee Stewart.

Although, the project has been aided greatly by material and equipment donations, several of the remaining construction requirements will need funding. Tax deductible donations can be directed the Heritage Preservation Society of Putnam County, P.O. Box 163, Greencastle, Ind., 46135.

Ken Eitel,

Heritage Preservation Society