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Open house celebrates Yaak cabin restoration

| November 1, 2005 11:00 PM

By STEVE KADEL Western News Reporter

A former U.S. Forest Service ranger cabin built in 1926 but abandoned for the past three decades has been restored by agency personnel and volunteers.

The old Upper Ford Ranger Station was district headquarters for the Forest Service's Upper Ford Ranger District during the 1920s and 1930s. However, the cabin began declining in use when the district combined with the Yaak Ranger District to the south in 1942.

Rodents have been the only tenants in recent years.

That's been changed by crews from the Forest Service, the National Parks Service Heritage Preservation team, along with the Cabinet Back Country Horsemen and the Yaak Valley Forest Council and other volunteers. Their restoration efforts began in April and culminated last week with an open house to celebrate completion of the job.

"Everything was done to be as historically accurate as possible," said Russ Gautreaux of the Forest Service.

Mark Mason of Troy Ranger District was project leader for work on the two-story cabin six miles north of the community of Yaak. It is now available for overnight use by the public through the Forest Service.

A porch was rebuilt and a cedar shake roof added. The chimney was reconstructed above the roof. Linoleum was pulled from the kitchen floor, with the hardwood underneath sanded and varnished as were floors in other rooms. Windows were reglazed and painted. The structure is heated by propane, and the facilities include a horse corral built by the horsemen's club.

A Lincoln County road crew surfaced the nearby road and a turnaround area. An outhouse with log exterior walls was funded with money from the Lincoln County Resource Advisory Committee. Other costs were covered by federal capital appropriations from Congress.

Merrill Greeman and his family were the last residents of the cabin. They lived there from 1964 to 1966, but the next ranger to occupy the structure moved out quickly due to sewer problems.

Seasonal crews used the cabin until the mid-1970s when they began staying at the Upper Yaak Work Center a quarter mile away. Besides the main cabin, an office and warehouse, barn and a pumphouse are all that remained with other buildings having been removed or destroyed.

The renovated cabin is in a picturesque setting next to the Yaak River with a view of Bunker Hill to the southeast. There are two bedrooms upstairs, and a futon downstairs that accommodate a total of seven people. Overnight fee is $50.

Those interested in renting the cabin can do so at the Forest Service supervisor's office on U.S. Highway 2. More information is available by calling at 293-6211.