Log cabins have long symbolized the pioneer spirit of America. Introduced to this county by the Scandinavians in the early 1600s, the log and shake method of building a home soon became the standard for housing from the Atlantic to the Pacific until the mid 1800s.
Because of the excessive amount of trees that once dotted the landscape of the American plains, a log home could be constructed at very little cost except for labor. Primitive log cabins were made from local wood, and were usually constructed using an axe and drawknife. Most log cabins outlived their owners, and some have lasted more than two hundred years.
Primitive log cabins were generally constructed by no more than two people, usually a husband and wife team. Once the trees were felled, the cabin went together in a matter of days. If the couple had children, it was the children's job to do the chinking between the logs, using a mixture of rocks, gravel and mud. Many early log cabins had thatch, or grass, roofs and others had wooden shakes. It was rare for a log cabin to have more than one or two rooms, although curtains were used to separate sections of the house.
With the invention of the chain saw, the old skill of using an axe to build the cabins was nearly lost. In the late 1960s and early 1970s back to the land movement, this skill was rediscovered as many of these back to the landers began building log cabins of their own. During this time, many books were written detailing the skills needed to build a log cabin or one of the variations, such as a cordwood home.
Today, the majority of log cabins built are from purchased kits. These kits, by many manufacturers, allow the buyer to choose the wood of their choice, different floor plans and various other options. Many of these kits feature two or more floors, decks and patios, and modern window features. The new log cabin owner can either construct the cabin himself or hire a sub-contractor to do the work for him.
Log cabin homes are still seen as the foundation for rustic living, and are considered by some to be the perfect country or vacation home.