Wednesday, December 10, 2014

W. Ben Hunt's cabin

If you grow up in the 60's and were in Boy Scouts you probably remember much of his works.
W. Ben Hunt

Monday, December 8, 2014

Not log, but related to the last post. . . .The Lost Valley Lodge

Many years ago, before 1940, there use to be three tiny villages in St Charles County Mo., Howell, Hamburg and Toonerville.
Then Hitler tried to take over Europe and Japan ran amok in the Pacific.
And TNT was needed for the war effort and a location close to St Louis was needed that also had access to rail lines and roads.
The property was found just across the Missouri River from St Louis County.
But three tiny villages stood in the way.
But what the government needed, wasn't to be denied.
Smarter people than I have argued the waste in the destruction. And I am sure people in the government could argue that it was necessary.

The were many families displaced, and homes lost and businesses closed down. Communities that most people in St Charles County now aren't even aware existed. Some of the homes were small and simple. Many large and would now be considered historical. Many log structures were lost.

The whole story of the area can be found here, The TNT Story.

For all the destruction of homes, there was some good to come out of it. To the people that lost their homes, I am sure it is not enough.
I am one of the many people who have benefited from the TNT Story. Although it must be said I would have loved to have seen these old buildings.

Once the War Department was done with the property much of it was sold to the University of Missouri as a research area for agriculture. And in the end, it all ended up in the hands of the very capable Missouri Conservation Dept. Thankfully private developers never had the chance to acquire this wonderful land.

While the University owned the property the local St. Charles County Boy Scouts were able to use much of the land for camp sites and activities. This is how I came to know the area.
Our troop spent many weekends camping in the area. And later on I would hike and explore most of the area that was once these villages.

On the property the scouts were able to use the beautiful old building we called 'The Lodge'.
Large and built of stone, for most of the year it was home to the man who looked after the area for the scouts. His job was to mow and generally keep the place up for camping and hiking. Over the years he spent a lot of his own money making the place better by building camping shelters and keeping the swimming hole deep and usable. (It included a long wood bridge with a great swinging rope.)

I knew little about the history of the building other than we were told it was officers quarters when the army owned the property. It is with reading the TNT Story that I found the rest of the history.

In 1980 I did a painting of the old lodge. It was soon to be torn down. A few of us tried to save it, but it was not meant to be. It would have been almost 80 years old now.
I first started experiencing the place in about 1965. It would have only been about 26 years old by then.
Here is the painting I did just a few years before it came down.

Although it mostly served as the residence of the caretaker, it also had two bunk rooms that each slept about eight boys (and many times Girl Scouts also). The three windows on the left would have been the front bunk room. The three to the right of the front door would have been the caretakers work shop.
The center room where the raised roof is was a large main living room with a very large fire place. The ceiling was so high (How high was it?) that during winter outings at the lodge we could set  a trampoline up inside.
Another bunk room was also on the left, but at the back of the building. 

This small building at the left in the painting was the water pump house and shower. 

This next building on the right in the painting was a summer sleeping porch that the caretaker built above the old stone cellar and gas shed.

When I stayed down and helped the caretaker for a week or so one summer I slept in the summer porch. And to show how things stick in ones mind; It was the week Louis Armstrong died in 1971.
(I know where I was when Elvis and JFK died also.)

Us unknowing Scouts always believed the place was built for officers involved with the TNT plant. Although we were wrong, it was partly true.

These following wonderful photos are from the TNT Story of how the place looked before the government got it, and a little about the history of it.

 "The home was nearly new in 1940. . " So the TNT Story goes. It was built by an executive for Brown Shoe Company of St Louis. The original owner was a William Kaut.

The above photo is the same view as the painting, approximately.

Imagine having this almost new home taken away from you for what the government thought was needed.

This next photo is a back and side view, also showing in the foreground the pump house. A really good view of the high center ceiling.

The next picture is the cave like cellar that the summer sleeping porch was built above.

Also on the property was this caretakers house, which we used as a bunk house for the scouts . . 

The next photo is of the long building which was a barn and stable. In our scouting days it was a bunk house and workshop. It was across the creek near the swimming hole.

Here is what the Kaut's said of the place when trying not to lose it: "In testimony in United States Circuit Court in 1942, William Kaut described this property as follows: "[It was] a park, not a farm.  We worked that [acreage] for seven years to put it in shape.  The residence was a ranch type house of logs, ten rooms, air-conditioned, had three baths, very fine baths; lavatory and toilet off the game room; slab floor all . . . a ten-room house.  Also a barn one hundred feet long and twenty-seven feet wide.  It was all rock.  The water-works there was also a rock building, with built-in laundry and shower, and also an underground room 14 by 16 for storage, with a two thousand gallon oil tank and filling station and water pipe."

Although the buildings survived the war, and served as an Officers Club (which seems really unfair to me). . . .

It was eventually taken down in the early 80's when the Missouri Conservation Dept. took over the property.
Very little of the land lost in these three villages was actually used by the War Dept. 
The TNT plant, although large was never to near many of the buildings. I guess they government wanted a large secure zone around the plants.
I tried to find a purpose for the building for the conservation Dept. but they thought the need and expense made it impossible. I disagree. 
149 families were moved. That plant did not even last till the end of the war, closing in Jan. 1944.
Many of the people who lost their homes were paid very little, and some took a long time to be paid. 
Go to the site TNT Story and look at the homes and villages lost. It is sad.
Although lost to these families it was a great benefit for many years to local Boy Scouts. And it now serves as protected land for wildlife and nature. So, you see, it's not all bad news.
But still, was it necessary.

Additional comments from the buy out; 

Large payments to individual landowners included $42,288 to Mr. and Mrs. William Kaut for their 74 acres, assessed at $5000. Kaut is general superintendent for the Brown Shoe Company. Kaut, who was ill yesterday, could not comment but his son, William Kaut Jr., said there were extensive improvements on the grounds including a nine-room stone house with four baths.


Quickly Agrees TNT No Place for Home

            Living near an explosives plant is nothing new to William Kaut, general superintendent of the Brown Shoe Company here, but he thinks so little of the idea that he was among the first to agree with the War Department option-buyers on the price at which he would yield his new St. Charles County home to the proposed TNT plant.
            Built three years ago as a “home for the rest of my life,” Kaut’s 75-acre tract contains a stone 10-room residence, a barn and a cottage. The grounds have been carefully landscaped.
            Twenty years ago Kaut had his first experience with powder plant explosions when he lived in Carthage, Mo. Twelve miles away was the Hercules Powder plant, which he said blew up several times without extensive near-by damage.
            “While they didn’t hurt my place, I don’t have any desire to live near another explosives plant,” he said. “I have already signed an option to sell my property to the government for the St. Charles County plant. There’s no other way out of it and I believe all landowners affected would do better to work with the government on the job than against.”

Long gone for the TNT plant, Hamburg and Howell St Charles County mo.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Just some old photos to keep you in the right mind. . . .

Can't imagine calling this home.
This one may have been a sporting camp. It is in very good shape and I love the car in the photo.

HERE is a link to a pinterest site on old log cabins.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It's unusual to see. . .

an old photo of a log home with a sided backroom and front porch but no siding on the main building.
Most people wanted to cover the logs as soon as they could.

I believe this is from one of the old St Charles County villages of Howell or Hamburg.

Here is a link to those tiny lost villages.
A very interesting read.

Here are two more images from the same site.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

And here is a little more on the same place.

Innsbrook cabin

I will have to check it out, not to far from my place.

The Innsbrook Historical Society has begun restoring a 170-year-old homestead located just south of Alpine Dam.
Until recently, little was known about the 1840s log cabin. Research reveals the first known settlers of what is now a 40-acre section of the Innsbrook development were the Bottemuller family.
Hermann Bottemuller came to Missouri from Germany with his wife and family in the 1840s and in 1843 purchased this 40-acre section from the local land office in St. Louis. A land grant was subsequently signed and issued by the General Land Office in Washington, D.C., in 1848.
"The Innsbrook Historical Society was formed to restore and preserve historic structures and adjacent properties within the Village of Innsbrook in order to educate and deepen the understanding of the legacy of the land and its inhabitants with the hope of bringing friends and neighbors together to celebrate the Innsbrook area history in a natural recreational setting," said John Welter, chairman of the historical society.
"While all this sounds very serious, the overall intent is to have fun: meet, work and play with Innsbrook friends and neighbors."
More than 40 Innsbrook residents and friends are involved. Innsbrook Historical Society committees include land and family history; archeological investigation; local area and geographic history; building site/interior decor restoration; fundraising; and website communication.
Project Manager Wayne Edwards and his team have begun the labor of work on the cabin site.
"Our initial effort has been to deconstruct and remove the deteriorated parts of the cabin, such as the front rooms on the porch. We are now in a position to assess the condition of the stone foundation. We will start at the foundation to level it and shore it up where needed and start replacing rotted logs in the walls," Edwards said. "Rotten logs across the back of the cabin will be removed and replaced with new logs. Any logs on the ends of the house that have rot spots, usually at the corners or around windows and doors, will be replaced totally or have the decayed spots cut out and new wood spliced in place."
"All windows and doors and jambs will be replaced with period originals or reproductions. The roof is currently corrugated sheet metal. This will be replaced with shake shingles as would have been original to the cabin," Edwards said.
The site will serve as an interpretive center where visitors can learn about the history of the area, the building and the families who lived there.
Additional site structures include a smokehouse, log barn and chicken coop, many of which will be restored. Heritage plants for the garden and period furnishings are additional considerations.
Restoration efforts will focus on keeping true to the time period and providing safe and ready access for visitors.
"The site, once completed, will also contain areas to simply rest, relax or enjoy a picnic before or after a walk in the beautiful Alpine Valley," Welter said.
For more information, visit If you know history of the site or want to help in the restoration, send an e-mail to

Interesting piece from the NPS

NPS log cabin 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Ft Zumwalt update!

As you can see, all the wall logs are up and Jessie is working on the roof rafters.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Some hobby!

Sharing this from a reader of this blog.

Very neat place.

Linked here.

There rest of her site looks great also.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Summer at the cabin.. . .

Nothing new out there, just some summer pictures till I get some new cabins.
Enjoy your summer.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Ft. Zumwalt update - July 2014

 I drive through the park every so often to see how the progress is going.
And I was pleasantly surprised yet again.

I the fore ground you can see some hewn logs arranged like another cabin is going up.
Jesse is either shaping, cutting and fitting the logs before raising them and the far west end (so he doesn't have to raise and lower them more than once), or it is a display for a festival this weekend.
I am going with the former.
 From the east-north east end.
From the north east.
You can see some progress on the far end second story.
 A closer look at this tidy building.
 You can now see floor joists in both the middle section and the west section.

 A closer look at the joists and how they fit.
he will trim the lengths before chinking.
 The logs above the fireplace on the west building.
 Same mantle from the middle room.
This, the eastern most of the three, would make a nice little cabin on it's own.

Note how the top shingles over hang the ridge?
This is done with the prevailing wind, before we had ridge caps or tin for roofing.
This is just one of a couple ways to do it, and, like the structure, very old school.