The USFS Hell Canyon Work Center log cabin and accompanying garage, which are located on lands historically inhabited by Cheyenne, Crow, and Sioux Nations, were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps between 1938 and 1940. The Civilian Conservation Corps was a Depression-era poverty relief program of the US Government that put young men to work on public benefit projects, especially on public lands. Corps members would receive three square meals per day, and $30 per month – $25 of which was given directly to their families. Learn more about the CCC from Theodore Roosevelt National Park here. Today, the building is still serving the public as a home base for fire crews.
A 2018 architectural report describes the cabins’ style as rustic, like most CCC-constructed buildings. However, these two “exceed the standard in terms of construction detail and craftsmanship.” The report continues to describe the buildings’ construction:
“The log cabin residence is built on a poured-in-place concrete foundation with native stone veneer above grade. The log walls consist of horizontally stacked 9-inch diameter logs saddle notched with oakum seal and 11-inch diameter vertical corner logs. According to the 1938 construction documents, the bases of the sill logs were sealed with creosote and oakum before being set onto a grout bed. The workmanship of the logs differs between the residence and the garage in that hand tool marks are clearly visible on the residence while only a heavy grain pattern characterizes the garage. This may have been achieved through a mechanical de-barking process although more research will be needed before a definitive method can be established.”
Over time, maintenance efforts addressed log deterioration and rot by applying various kinds of fillers, as well as paint. You may have heard that paint is the first line of defense for buildings – and that is especially true in in this case. Several layers of paint, applied over the past several decades, protected the logs from developing new rot, but it did not prevent the existing rot from spreading. HistoriCorps volunteers and staff will address this through removing paint, repairing deteriorated logs, and applying a new wood preservative treatment.