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Log Cabins

Imagine that your family moved to a place where there were mountains, streams, and trees but no houses. What would you do? Well, first, you’d probably build a shelter.

drawing of an ax

If your mom or dad had an ax and knew how to use it, your family could build a log cabin—using just an ax—in two or three weeks. Your new house wouldn’t be too fancy, but it would be warm and dry—at least, whenever it wasn’t raining! Many early cabins had dirt roofs, and they sometimes leaked.

Look at this cabin and think about what you could do to help your family build the cabin.

log cabin showing materials used

drawing of logs notched together

To fit the logs together, you need a notch. This is one of the easiest ones to make. It’s called a “saddle notch.”

How could you help your family furnish the cabin? Take a look at the inside of a cabin, below.

Boy poto












When Anglo American settlers first came to Utah, the first house many of them built was a log cabin. Later, if they could afford it, they would make the cabin bigger or just build a bigger house. But many families stayed in cabins. Sometimes families with lots of kids or lots of relatives would live in just one or two rooms.

If you lived in a log cabin, do you think you would have your own room? Where would you do the dishes? What would you do for fun?

Mary Jane Tanner wrote about her life in a cabin, so that her children could “see how little is really necessary for happiness.” With benches, shelves, curtains, and a small looking glass (or mirror), her cabin looked “clean and cheerful.... And I think I passed the happiest hours of my life in that old log cabin.”

Drawings by Rebekah Smith