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Harriet Reece of Cavendish and Lewiston and Rosalie Oxfore, IL are the winners!

Tall Pine Cabin (Swayne cabin) is the answer for Week 354 of Orofino History Trivia a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country.

Join in the discovery!

Monday: At different locations

Tuesday: It was moved down the hill.

Wednesday: Has served various functions

Thursday: It's built of logs.

A near as can be determined what is now "Tall Pine Cabin" was built around 1900, possibly before, but mostly likely between 1904 and 1907. The owners Mark and Gayle Swayne based the estimate on finding a few square nails which went out of common use about 1900, it was papered with newspaper-the earliest of which was dated July 23, 1907, an issue of the Kansas Star Mirror and George Harlan, a timber cruiser for Potlatch Forests, Inc., was born there in 1907.

The two-story building, approximately 20' X 30' later had a lean-to kitchen, woodshed and porches added to it. Nearly all the materials in the cabin, except the floors and windows were native materials, probably cut a few yards from the original location. Big Tamarack log-mud sills served as the foundation and supported floor joists of hewed timbers about eight inches square. The upstairs floor was supported by similar square timbers 30 feet long running lengthwise of the building.

The cabin was moved to its present location in mid-1960 by Samuel F. Swayne to preserve an example of the axemanship, sturdiness, and resourcefulness of the early pioneers who went out into the primitive wilderness and, with simple tools, built comfortable (for the era) homes. These pioneers, without government grants, aid, or programs such as Social Security, welfare, or such help made a place for themselves and laid the foundation for the culture in the Clearwater Valley.

The building was dismembered one log at a time from its original location on Upper Fords Creek near Weippe and reassembled at the present site on U.S. Highway 12 across from the Orofino airport. The original reconstruction plan was to combine the original building as intact as possible with a replica of the old kitchen/woodshed lean-to rough enough to be harmonious with the main structure, but containing enough of the modern conveniences such as water, lights, and plumbing to be usable and useful by today's standards. The walls were sanded and oiled to get rid of years of encrusted grime and surplus slivers.

Only the back door and wooden latch of the original cabin were preserved as the other doors were so battered that they were not weather worthy. The back door is currently the door to the upstairs closet and was preserved for the inscription, in blue crayon, which a former occupant wrote, presumably a message to a neighbor. It reads: "I do not care for you to come in, but don't eat up everything you find open and then lie about it. For I love to have you come but close this door when you leave!"

Several recent modifications were made for public safety when it became Tall Pine Cabin, a lodging place for visitors. The original stairway was too steep, too narrow, and too badly chewed by countless caulked boots to be used by visitors. Also, a large beam was added for increased support of the second floor. Visitors can step back in history while having all the modern conveniences including Internet access.

It is hard to guess how many families have lived in the cabin's shelter during its existence, or how big the families may have been. No doubt some may have numbered 9 or 10 members. Some early residents and perhaps the builders were the Stiles family; two grown boys, a sister and husband and children, and possibly some other adults. Sometime after the Stiles family lived in the cabin the Bonner family owned it and subsequently sold it to Samuel F. Swayne.

For further details of the cabin's construction and history, see the Tall Pine Cabin web site at:

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Orofino, ID 83544
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