Hard-scrabble log cabin life in the West

October 10, 2013
log cabin ghost r

Log cabin near Abiqui, NM

Driving along the road to Ghost Ranch, the place that served as artist Georgia O’Keeffe’s winter home, we came across this isolated log cabin with a nearby corral. Set against the deep blue sky it was an arresting sight.

Was it new? Old? Why was it there?

There were no signs or clues.

log cabin sideWe decided to investigate. When we got closer, it certainly looked authentic. And  yet, maybe it wasn’t old–it was still in good shape.  Still, my imagination ran wild.

What was it like to live in the 19th century, when rough cabins like this one were the norm in the West?

log cabin porchDoesn’t this look idyllic?

I’m sure it wasn’t, at least not for settlers of the Old West. There would be no time for sitting in a rocker on this rough front porch.

Desert life had to be hard-scrabble, full of manual labor. Sheer survival took the kind of work we can’t even fathom.

The sound of men coming in at the end of the day echoed in my ears, their work boots trodding on the uneven boards. I could see their scraggy clothing covered with desert dust.

log cabin open door

A beautiful, rough-hewn door handle was too hard to resist. (Isn’t it evocative?) We opened the door and entered the cabin.

log cabi fireplThe main room was large and looked much better built than I would have thought.  Good thing; winters here are cold.

A very basic fireplace provided warmth and a cooking fire. I could envision spartan, hand-made wooden furniture. A throw rug. Just the basics.

Contrast that with the $8,000 Shiatsu massage chair I saw in the SkyMall catalog earlier in the week.  Oh, we are spoiled!

log cabin rmA second small room had to have been a bedroom. I’m sure there would be winter days when the cabin’s occupants would have appreciated warm sun streaming in through that small window.

log cabin corral

The ramshackle corral was probably effective enough for horses.

The saturated blue backdrop and red rock mountains made every view of this little homestead a spectacular representation of the history of the West.

The more I explored, the more I suspected it was a rebuild. On the other hand, I would have expected some sort of sign to identify it. But the fact that there wasn’t a sign made the discovery seem serendipitous and all the more fun.

I would have liked to have stayed a while longer and let my imagination run its course, but we had places still to go.

But isn’t it wonderful to run across unexpected little mysteries on a trip?

Later, I discovered the cabin had been built for the 1991 movie, City Slickers. But even knowing that didn’t detract a bit from its beauty.

All photos are mine.

5 comments on “Hard-scrabble log cabin life in the West
  1. What a fun discovery. Thank you for sharing your exploration! My husband and I were *just* talking last night about how brave and, well, hardscrabble those who tamed the wild west (or traveled cross country in a covered wagon) were. I don’t think I’d have made it.

    Great post!

  2. What a cool find! New Mexico is on my list of places I want to go…just haven’t made it there yet!

  3. admin says:

    We did a few new things last week and I’ve got 4-5 more blog posts about discoveries that you might want to bookmark. We’d both been before, but the stuff we did this time was different, thanks to local friends who served as guides. At least some of it. I’m just finishing up something on the Balloon Fiesta with great photos and vids, as well as helpful hints…and then some of the other stuff, too. Stay tuned!

  4. That’s my dream home…

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