A mud-chinked cabin


log cabin

Finding this cabin was another of those blind hog finds acorn, the Lord takes care of fools and drunks moments. Here was a mud-chinked log cabin with no electric service. Yeah buddy!

 

August 1, 2010 – UPDATE – “Killin’ House”

While shooting another story in the general vicinity, a couple local guys stopped by to chat. Eventually the conversation got around to the cabin you see above. One of my visitors said he knew of the cabin near Grapevine and that it was on “Killin’ House Road.” Further conversation revealed that some years back, a person was killed at the cabin. After that untoward event, the cabin became known as the “Killin’ House” and the road became known as, you guessed it, “Killin’ House Road.”

Had I blinked at the wrong time or had less peripheral vision, I would have missed this fine log cabin in the boondocks near Grapevine, Arkansas. In fact, the glimpse was so fleeting, I had to back up and confirm the sighting.

I happened on the cabin after shooting an old and decrepit country store in nearby Grapevine. See the store and read the store story on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to go there.  We’ll wait here.

 

back of cabin

The windowless cabin is showing some signs of wear, but for the most part, is in good condition. The tin roof is pulling loose in a couple of places and there's a bit of rot here and there along the bottom logs, but judging by the "any port in a storm," standard, the old structure would be a welcome respite in untoward weather conditions. And four walls between you and hungry critters.

The cabin is receiving some attention since the encroaching woods have not completely devoured it. Trees and underbrush have a voracious appetite for real estate, so someone is keeping the clearing, well, clear. Would that I could meet this soul and learn the rest of the story. And oh yes, the front door, about shoulder height to me is also the emergency exit.

 

Mud chinked

Mud chinked logs are a traditional and effective method of keeping the weather outside where it should be kept. It also has the benefit of offering dirt daubers a condo location. The wasps are generally benevolent in their deportment toward mankind. Even better, they look on Black Widow Spiders as their preferred snack. What a friend we have in dirt daubers.

If you are not familiar with the term, “chinking,” it is the process of filling the horizontal gaps between logs with some sort of material to seal the wall. Mud was the traditional medium for this process. Modern versions of log cabins, use more sophisticated materials. While I suspect this is a twentieth century structure, the building methods were traditional, including chinking with good ol’ mud. And the dirt daubers love it.

tree falls on roof

While we have determined that the cabin does get some attention, it hasn't been lately, or the attention giver was not up to moving this small tree across the roof. Bet that tree made a hair-raising retort when it crashed onto that tin roof. The gravel road is in the background.

The cabin was a great discovery, but only if you think finding an intact log cabin in the boondocks is a good thing. If you don’t, get counseling.

Been there, shot that

Mean time, to add a bit of spice to life, I have included probably one of  the most well-shot locations in the lower 48, to wit: St. Louis Cathedral on Chartres Street off Jackson Square in NOLA, New Orleans, Louisiana. This was snapped in April 2009 while the city was still stretching and yawning.

St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans

Andy Jackson and St. Louis Cathedral are one of the most familiar visual combinations of modern times. This setup is a favorite of newsmen and politicians.

 

But wait, there’s more.

See all of the Corndancer and Weekly Grist pictures in glorious high resolution, including a black and white version of each picture. Click here to go there!

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

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Standing tall after 101 years


This really is a two-story 101 year-old barn, still standing tall. By way of explanation, this story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. To see the tall version of the barn and get in on how the story started, click here, a cool thing to do. Trust me on this one.

The barn belongs to the wife of Herman Nutt, master of the domain and my tour guide. He is a good one. A friendly, well-spoken man, he is a retired millwright from a local paper mill. Those guys can fix or build just about anything. Herman told me about the barn and some of its contents. The 66 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon belonged to his late mother-in-law. They elected to hold on to the car and there it is.

You are looking at the livestock side of the barn, above. There were two "rooms." The door to the second "room" is just to the left of the car. The stairs to the second floor are also in that room. It is presumed that one side was for beasts of burdern, horses and mules. And the other side was for cattle.

You are looking at the livestock side of the barn, above. There were two "rooms." The door to the second "room" is just to the left of the car. The stairs to the second floor are also in that room. It is presumed that one side was for beasts of burden horses and mules. And the other side was for cattle.

This is the corn crib and storage side of the barn. It is floored to keep feed, leather tack and other supplies off the ground and as far away from hungry varmints as possible. The hole in the ground on this side attests to that this side still as some attraction to burrowing critters. Herman has, among other things, a hammer mill stored on this side.

This is the corn crib and storage side of the barn. It is floored to keep feed, leather tack and other supplies off the ground and as far away from hungry varmints as possible. The hole in the ground on this side tells us there is still some attraction to critters after 101 years. Herman has, among other things, a hammer mill stored on this side.

Herman’s syrup mill still stands close to the barn and his home. Although vines seem to have captured the mill, you can still barely see the two large rollers which squeeze the juice from sorghum cane. Once the juice was squeezed from the cane, it was cooked over an open fire in a baffled pan.

Herman’s syrup mill still stands close to the barn and his home. Although vines seem to have captured the mill, you can still barely see the two large rollers which squeeze the juice from sorghum cane.

Like many fully employed rural residents, Herman kept busy on his “place.” He raised corn and made meal with his hammer mill. You don’t really have to have a creek and a dam to have a grist mill. If you have a hammer mill and a tractor with a power takeoff, you are in business. Herman was also a syrup maker.

He made sorghum molasses and ribbon cane syrup the old fashioned way. Herman’s syrup mill still stands close to the barn and his home. Although vines seem to have captured the mill, you can still barely see the two large rollers which squeeze the juice from sorghum cane. Once the juice was squeezed from the cane, it was cooked over an open fire in a baffled pan.

The syrup mill to the left is typical. It has two large rollers which squeeze juice from the cane as it passed through the mill. Most of the mills were powered by a mule. Look closely the top of the mill and you will see a connector bar attached to a shaft which goes into the mill and is attached to the drive gears. A stripped sapling or other type of pole is attached to the connector bar and the other end is attached to a mule who walks around a circle to power the mill. Click here and here to see syrup mill simlar to this one. Click  Click here to find out more about syrup mills in general. Thanks Herman for steering us in this direction.

Meandering through the boondocks

Having gathered sufficient pixels to support a story, I headed east, back to my home in the Delta. On the way, I of course, took shortcuts, which in this neck of the woods normally mean gravel roads. That’s not all bad. Most of the gravel roads in Arkansas are pretty good and will support a healthy clip of travel. Plus you make some observations, not available to less adventurous souls.

Gravel roads and wooden bridges are old hat down here. To those in urban areas maybe not. So, take a gander at the wooden bridge on my shortcut.

Gravel roads and wooden bridges are old hat down here. To those in urban areas maybe not. So, take a gander at the wooden bridge on my shortcut.

And finally, a trip in the boondocks is not complete without observing a road sign, the countenance of which has been altered by gunfire. After all boys will be boys, and in our part of the country, there is no closed season on shooting signs. It just seems to be a tradition.

My friendly local firearms and gunfire expert tells me the smaller holes were punched with nicely placed 30-.06 rounds and the gash was imposed with a 12 guage shotgun, up close and personal.

My friendly local firearms and gunfire expert tells me the smaller holes were punched with nicely placed 30-.06 rounds and the gash was imposed with a 12 gauge shotgun, up close and personal. Boys will be boys.

Thanks for dropping by,
Joe

Three rooms and a path


 Primitive house-barn combination

This old barn and house was under one roof. Not a bad idea in days gone by. What it missed in pleasant aromas, it made up in security, one would surmise.

Imagine rounding a curve on a remote gravel road and all of a sudden before your eyes is the skeletal remains of a homesteader place. Of all the places I have found in my wanderings, this is the most primitive. I’d hazard a guess that it dates back to early 1800s, though I have no evidence other than personal opinion on the matter. It is obviously a combination barn and residence. Past that, my humble opinions follow in this story.

If you’ve arrived here from the Corndancer dot com Photo of the Week, this continues the saga. If you’ve arrived here independently of the original story, and your curiosity is piqued, you can check it out here.

Looking at the barn-home from the back. The residence is on the right. Enclosed and pen space for the family critters is on the left.

We do not know who the residents of the barn-home were. I could have probably done a bit of local research in nearby Scotland, Arkansas, and someone might have known who lived there. However, it was Saturday afternoon and there were few signs of life in the town. The store was closed and it was likely that everyone else was glued to their tv sets watching Florida administer a good shellacking to the Razorbacks. Not a good time to interrupt fans with an unsolicited request for a local history update.

The structure shows evidence of maintenance and improvements after the original construction. The framing around the front door shows sawmill rip marks. The frame was attached with more modern looking nails. The doors on the critter side are similarly festooned with commercially prepared strips of lumber. Even the hardiest of souls can appreciate labor saving improvements.

Entrance to primitive cabin

The front door to the residence appears to have been built for midgets. People of average height must stoop to enter the premises. This is not uncommon for primitive residences.

The living quarters had little to offer besides shelter and protection from predators. In that day and time perhaps that's all that was expected.

The living quarters had little to offer besides shelter and protection from predators. In that day and time perhaps that met expectations.

Once you are inside the living room, den, bedroom, kitchen, closet, utility-room combination, you run out of amenities. Four walls, a ceiling, a floor and a door are it. There might have been a window at the back, but it’s hard to tell for sure.

You are nicely sheltered from the elements and there is a wall between you and those critters who consider you a menu item. Past that, there’s not much more to be said for the accommodations.

For these folks, a trip to town was a daylight to dark experience at the very best. Even by today’s standards, the home place is way back in the boondocks. The gravel road from highway 95 is good and well maintained now. It was probably little more than a primitive trail when this place was built.

Some things never change

If you were a husband, and you went to town by yourself, you were leaving your family to the elements and wild critters for an entire day. Who knows, maybe more. If  you were the wife left behind, as soon as husband was out of sight, the concerns mounted. What will befall him on the trip? Will I ever see him again?

Critter closets. Your nearest neighbors were your animals. Right across the breezeway.

Critter closets. Your nearest neighbors were your animals. Right across the breezeway. Hope the breeze was in the right direction.

If you both went, you had to be concerned about what might happen while you were gone. Would your home be plundered by a bear. Would a wandering miscreant knowing that if no one were home, it was likely no one would be home for a while. Long enough to do nefarious deeds.

Today, we complain of modern stresses. (Most of which are self-imposed in one way or another). In 18-whatever, in this neck of the woods, one of your stressful worries was being eaten. We should count our blessings. We don’t need old-fashioned stress. Losing the remote is far preferable to being today’s special for a hungry critter.

This backroad is a handy shortcut for 18-wheelers, an advantage to photographers who need to make a bridge photo interesting.

This backroad is a handy shortcut for 18-wheelers, an advantage to photographers who need to make a bridge photo interesting.

This trip started at Petit Jean State Park and meandered easterly through central Arkansas. On the way, I encountered a steel bridge across Cadron Creek east of Springfield AR. Since there ain’t many of ’em left, I’m including a shot of the bridge. The telephoto lens effect gives the appearance of an imminent run over by the 18-wheeler. Not a chance. Thank goodness for long optics.

Thanks for dropping by,
Joe Dempsey

All photos and content ©2008 Joe Dempsey.