Robinson Cabin restoration at Wilderness Road
The frontier cabin was donated by well respected Friends of Wilderness Road State Park member David Robinson, who was looking for a new home for the historic structure after purchasing land less than 10 miles from the park.
Park Manager Jonathan Tustin explained that Robinson became familiar with the park when the two met and became friends. Robinson offered the cabin to the park hoping to see it preserved. Tustin, along with maintenance ranger David Cope and interpretive program manager Billy Heck inspected the cabin to see if it could be moved to park.
When they peeled back the tar paper and tacked on additions, they were amazed to discover an excellent representation of the construction of cabins from the late 1700's. Heck noted that the notches on the corners of the cabin were dovetailed, indicative of an cabin constructed in the last quarter of the 18th century.
Other notable time telling construction details include: original floorboards (puncheons) which are very wide and are hand-hewn and wooden pegged; the entire cabin was constructed using wooden pegs, including the rafters; and the gable and lathing boards were not sawn, but were rived, which at that time period involved a large amount of time and energy.
Heck says these features push the date of construction into the 1700's as the 1800's witnessed the arrival of numerous sawmills and blacksmith shops into Powell's Valley. He says most cabins built in the 1800's would have used sawmill cut lumber for the floors, gables and lathing.
The cabin was dismantled from the Robinson property and transported to the park where it was reassembled at the entrance to the park's authentic recreation of Captain Joseph Martin's station. Not long after the cabin was removed from the Robinson property, an EF2 tornado ripped through the area and destroyed a barn and shed just feet from where the cabin originally stood, which would have surely damaged or even destroyed the cabin.
New cedar shakes and windows are currently being installed on the cabin which will be used this year as the registration area for the Raid at Martin's Station, the park's annual special event featuring more than 400 reenactors who recreate a Cherokee attack on Martin's Station.
The Raid at Martin's Station is scheduled for May 11-13. Admission is $5 per person and $1 per child (6-12). The highlight of the event is two exciting frontier battles, at 1 pm on Saturday and a special night battle at 8:30 pm Saturday night. Admission to the night battle is $3 per vehicle. The event is sponsored by the Friends of Wilderness Road State Park. Please click here for directions.