Relocating an Authentic Log Cabin
How many disassembling and moving processes must an authentic log go through from the time you find it until it is finally reconstructed? The answer is many times—too many to count. In fact, the more I count the heavier the logs become!
The thing about old cabins is that, although some cabins are just standing there in their original form, some have been covered with layers of updated siding as the home grew with each generation of homeowners—from old stamped shingle patterns in either red or gold hues to lap wood siding and even additional layers of vinyl, brick or rock. Once those layers have been removed, then you can start actually disassembling the cabin, preferably in late fall after the first good heavy frost to avoid possible bee or hornet nests. (Wintertime is best, but the cold winds can blow right through you.)
There is a process for disassembling it, too: You have to number the logs, take the cabin down log by log—either by hand or a forklift—and stack the logs in loading order. Thankfully, that had all been done when I purchased this cabin. Stored about 200 feet behind a barn on the property of its sister cabin in Lexington, North Carolina, they lay on the ground covered with old roofing tin or a tarp. I just had to schedule the transportation, rent the equipment to load the logs and relocate the cabin to Chatham County.
To move these massive antique logs to the new site, we had three men, a Bobcat loader and a part-time operator for the Kubota tractor with a lift. Once the truck and trailers were loaded and moved to the new location, it was time to unload and re-stack, cover and secure until it’s time to build.
Of course, it sounds like a simple plan. But it rains, it snows—stuff happens. You reschedule, several times if necessary. We did!
Obviously, there needs to be a site to store the cabin and equipment after the takedown. Storing these logs properly—whether in a dry building or under a secured tarp—is very important in order for them to last another 200 years. They should be off the ground with pedestals, or skids, because air flow/circulation is also key to preserving them. Lucky for me, my lifelong friend Eddie Thomas had a place nearby for both the logs and the equipment to load and transport them.
Now, we only have one more trip to make: When it is time to start building the cabin, they’ll be transported to their final resting place, Justice Plantation, in Pittsboro, North Carolina. The logs will be unloaded once again, and like before, they’ll be covered and stored until it’s time for the log raising.
None of this could have been done, though, without the handiwork of the original craftsman. These large timbers were felled and snaked up to the building site by mules, and then hand-sawn and hand-hewn, with their corners notched. Then a pulley of some sort lifted these large oak logs into place to create this beautiful authentic log cabin. I just hope that we can rebuild this cabin in honor of the craftsmanship of what this homesteader created. He really had done the work long before me.
Back to 1808 Restoration Diary.