Kirkwood Museum, Idaho

Kirkwood Museum, Idaho

DATES: June 16 - June 25, 2017

Volunteer with HistoriCorps to preserve the historic Kirkwood Museum (aka Sterling Cabin) on the Wild and Scenic Snake River!
This project is more logistically demanding than most HistoriCorps projects (see details below). Please be advised that this is a tent-only project.

PROJECT PARTNER: Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. Top photo source: Wallowa-Whitman National Forest

CHALLENGE LEVEL: MEDIUM. This log cabin project involves lifting and carrying heavy logs.


Idaho's Wallowa-Whitman National Forest envelops 2.3 million acres of land with stunning diversity. From its base of 975' of elevation in the Snake River-carved Hell's Canyon, the site of our project, to the highest point of elevation at 9,845 feet in the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area, this area is one for the adventurous. Tucked away in the Hell's Canyon NRA lies one of our country's more unique historical landmarks, the Kirkwood Historical Ranch.

A very brief site history: The site got its name from the Dr. Jay Kirkwood and his family, who squatted at the nearby sandbar and constructed two cabins out of wood scavenged from Chinese mines. They lived there from 1880-1885. The site was subsequently occupied by a series of owners and ranchers, and in the early 1900s, the site's larger building was built. In 1953 a ranch hand, Dick Sterling, built what is today called the Sterling Cabin. Len Jordan, who occupied the site with his family in the 1930's, later became Governor of Idaho and a U.S. Senator. The family's matriarch, Grace Jordan, wrote a book titled Home Below Hell's Canyon where she shares her pioneer experience of raising a family beyond civilization during the Great Depression. The book's description follows:

"During the depression days of the early 1930s the Jordan family-Len Jordan (later governor of Idaho and a United States senator), his wife Grace, and their three small children-moved to an Idaho sheep ranch in the Snake River gorge just below Hell's Canyon, the deepest scratch on the face of North America."

We'll be boating up the Snake River into Hell's Canyon. This project is one for the adventurous folks!

From the US Forest Service, you can read a fascinating, brief  historical overview of the ranch.

The Sterling Cabin is today a museum that serves as an educational resource to provide visitors with a glimpse into the past.

WHO:  All are welcome, no experience needed. Those under age 18 must have a parent or guardian accompany them.

WHAT:  In order to complete the structural preservation work the Kirkwood Museum needs, volunteers will primarily focus on log work and learn to:

  • Stabilize logs through jacking and cribbing
  • Replace severely deteriorated logs
  • Re-face logs affected by decay and weathering

WHERE:  View the project site's location here. Volunteers will meet at Pittsburg Landing (map) and camp out the night before (June 16) taking a jet boat up the river to Kirkwood Ranch, as this remote site is otherwise quite inaccessible. We will boat out on the afternoon of June 25.
GPS Coordinates: 45.6342331, -116.4805378


  • HistoriCorps will provide volunteers with camping near the project site. First time camping? Visit the National Forest Service's site for tips!
  • Showers are not available.
  • Field staff will train volunteers in the project work. All tools are provided. Please do not bring your own tools – we don’t want them to get lost!
  • Given the rural nature of this site, HistoriCorps cannot ensure there will be cell phone service available. To determine if you will have cell service, please check your carrier's coverage map.
  • Volunteers are responsible for bringing their own camping supplies including: tent, sleeping bag, pillow, toiletries.
  • Volunteers are responsible for their transportation to and from the meeting spot (TBD).
  • HistoriCorps will provide volunteers with meals including: breakfast, lunch, dinner, water and snacks.
  • The work day will last from 8:00am – 5:00pm with breaks for lunch, snacks and water in between.
  • Volunteers must come prepared with proper attire including: sturdy work shoes, long pants and a work shirt.

If you have any further questions, please contact Liz Rice, Volunteer Manager, at or at 720-287-0100 ext. 231. Thank you for your interest in this project!

  • Session 1
    June 16, 2017 - June 25, 2017
Session 1

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Please check back again later, as spots may become available.

2017-05-20T11:19:44+00:00 March 15th, 2017|Comments Off on Kirkwood Museum, Idaho