Log Cabin History

The first European settlers who came to North America did not in fact embrace the horizontal log-building techniques, as we know them today. These English colonists of the seventeenth century went with what they knew and that was hewn vertical
timbers with the space between filled with brick or stone and then plastered over. This building method was utilized for the first 100 years of colonization.

It was after the American Revolution and particularly in the Pennsylvania/Delaware area where many ethnic groups had come to live did the horizontal log building techniques develop. It is recognized that it was the Swedes who brought these techniques to the New World. The classic Scandinavian log home is built with round, tight fitting logs with protruding ends and saddle notched corners. Along with the other immigrants in the region they adapted the European horizontal log with the English windows, door styles and proportions. Combined this created the North American Log Cabin.

As previously said the existing English colonists did not embrace this building technique and it was only after the Scottish and Irish arrived around 1720 did log homes start to move out of the small pockets of local development and spread across North America. The Presbyterian Scottish embraced this type of log construction as economical and an easy building method. The German method of log cabin construction where hewn logs and squared off corners was particularly prized by the Scots and this method plus the Scandinavian method spread west and south.

The Pennsylvania Key Notch is also attributed to the German immigrants. This includes a simple lap and keyed lap notches plus round saddle notches. At some point dovetail corners began to be seen, particularly in the Ozark Mountains of the US and in Renfrew County, Ontario Canada.

After the American Revolution many loyalist migrated to Canada and brought with them the log building techniques from the US. The local French were using a method called Piece on Piece. This is where a vertical timbers much the same as the original English Colonists, framed the building and to fill the space between they used horizontal filler logs. As the French colonized western Canada specifically the Red River they brought with them this method of building log cabins.

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