Miners’ secret cabin is a marvel in the snowy San Juans

Southwest Life

Miners’ secret cabin is a marvel in the snowy San Juans

With ingenious design, hidden bunkhouse survives
At an elevation over 11,000 feet in the San Juan Mountains, the snow load on the shallow-pitched roof of this decades-old miners’ cabin would be 200 pounds per square foot. Yet, because of its superior design and construction, the cabin stands in good condition.
The secret to the cabin’s longevity are collar ties below the eaves, seen here as nailed wooden wedges. As snow weight increased on the cabin roof, the collar ties tightened and kept the upper wall logs from splaying out or collapsing.
A ladder constructed from pine or spruce leads to an upper bunk in a loft built into the cabin’s anteroom addition.
An outside corner of the cabin displays careful saddle-notched hand-sawed logs.
A south-facing anteroom addition to the cabin used sawmilled lumber nailed vertically and two tall windows for maximum solar gain. This anteroom kept the one-room cabin drier and warmer.
A homemade wooden bed frame lies in the main part of the cabin. Marmots have gnawed on the bed legs.
The Handy Stove with its four lids sits in the cabin beneath wooden shelves.
The cabin from the east side shows the anteroom addition and doorway to the original one-room cabin.
A detailed shot of the cabin door shows the carpenter’s extensive use of tin to reinforce wood and to limit access by rodents.
A tobacco can nailed on an outside log was probably used to leave messages for the cabin’s occupants or for passers-by using a remote adjacent burro trail.
The entrance door with reinforced sheet metal has no doorknob only some wire and a wooden peg, which fits into a hasp. The cabin remains unlocked on public land.
We removed the pins on the stove door to take it outside to photograph the make of the Handy Stove and the model, 818C. We then carefully returned the stove lid and re-hinged it.
Courtesy of Andrew Gulliford

An outside wall of the cabin shows tight saddle-notched logs and adobe plastered chinking still in place after decades.

Miners’ secret cabin is a marvel in the snowy San Juans

At an elevation over 11,000 feet in the San Juan Mountains, the snow load on the shallow-pitched roof of this decades-old miners’ cabin would be 200 pounds per square foot. Yet, because of its superior design and construction, the cabin stands in good condition.
The secret to the cabin’s longevity are collar ties below the eaves, seen here as nailed wooden wedges. As snow weight increased on the cabin roof, the collar ties tightened and kept the upper wall logs from splaying out or collapsing.
A ladder constructed from pine or spruce leads to an upper bunk in a loft built into the cabin’s anteroom addition.
An outside corner of the cabin displays careful saddle-notched hand-sawed logs.
A south-facing anteroom addition to the cabin used sawmilled lumber nailed vertically and two tall windows for maximum solar gain. This anteroom kept the one-room cabin drier and warmer.
A homemade wooden bed frame lies in the main part of the cabin. Marmots have gnawed on the bed legs.
The Handy Stove with its four lids sits in the cabin beneath wooden shelves.
The cabin from the east side shows the anteroom addition and doorway to the original one-room cabin.
A detailed shot of the cabin door shows the carpenter’s extensive use of tin to reinforce wood and to limit access by rodents.
A tobacco can nailed on an outside log was probably used to leave messages for the cabin’s occupants or for passers-by using a remote adjacent burro trail.
The entrance door with reinforced sheet metal has no doorknob only some wire and a wooden peg, which fits into a hasp. The cabin remains unlocked on public land.
We removed the pins on the stove door to take it outside to photograph the make of the Handy Stove and the model, 818C. We then carefully returned the stove lid and re-hinged it.
Courtesy of Andrew Gulliford

An outside wall of the cabin shows tight saddle-notched logs and adobe plastered chinking still in place after decades.
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