Alaska- Frontiers Fall Issue 111
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Reroofing the Kink Cabin

Editor’s note: Here is a first-person account by Nicklaus Moser, a summer seasonal worker and part of a three person crew to reroof the historic structure over the summer. Other crewmembers were Courtney Cooper, a student conservation assistant, and Kevan Cooper, BLM Eastern Interior Field Offi ce realty specialist.

Before beginning a preservation project to replace the collapsed Kink cabin roof, I imagined the life of Fortymile River old-timers as difficult, not necessarily backbreaking, but as a challenge to survive. After peeling 140 poles and several ridge poles for the new sod roof of the Kink cabin using dull draw knives, our three person crew understood that frontier life was no walk in the park.

Kink Cabin with its new roof. Photo by Kevan CooperTo restore the roof to its original specifications, we cut an extra long ridgeline and ridge poles to create a generous overhang – one that will protect the cabin’s historic front from rain and shine and hopefully allow the building to stand for at least another twenty years. The awning complements the view of a beaver lake, just down the hill.

Built in 1898, the Kink cabin originally housed Johannes Petersen, his brother Emil, and other members of their camp. During their time at the Kink, the Petersen brothers managed to dynamite a hole through a nearby ridge, which diverted the river and created the dried oxbow that we know the area by today.

The brothers planned to mine the riverbed and make their fortunes. The Kink, however, is not rich in gold deposits. After many setbacks, including a landslide that temporarily refilled the gap, causing the oxbow to flood and wipe out an entire season’s hard work, the two brothers left with little gold.

There are only a handful of turn-of-the-century cabins still standing on the Fortymile River. The Kink cabin serves as an example of frontier accommodations and stands as a remembrance to the brothers’ unique story. Our reroofing of this cabin went very well. The Kink cabin is again dry and warm. We even fashioned an ergonomic sitting chair that anyone can enjoy. Though not maintained for regular use, it is available for a shelter in case of an emergency.

— Nicklaus Moser BLM Summer Seasonal Worker

Last updated: 10-28-2010