A Tribute to Pioneer Living / Building a Hand-Hewn Cabin
A Tribute to Pioneer Living
This small cabin was constructed in 1878 by Norwegian immigrant Carl Bjerke Jensen and his nephew John Bjerke. Carl moved to Dakota Territory from Minnesota with his father, Jens, and brothers, Hans and Ole, earlier that year. The three Jensen brothers wasted no time setting up homesteads. Ole homesteaded on land to the west, and Hans farmed to the south.
The walls of this one-room cabin are constructed of hand-hewn oak cut from the banks of the Sheyenne River-the foundation is made of local, uncut stones. Less weathered sections of the north side reveal that a lean-to was once added to the cabin and then later removed.
Building a Hand-Hewn Cabin
Trees for building a cabin like this one must be straight with no large branches. Green wood is easier to work, but weighs twice as much as dry. Green timbers, similar to the ones used in this cabin, can weigh as much as a small car.
This cabin began with a foundation of uncut stone. Two logs or "sills" are placed on the foundation to begin the cabin's longer walls. Sills support the entire structure.
The walls are laid in courses, level by level, on top of the first four logs. As each course is laid, it is hewn to fit the shape of the course below-creating "custom-fit walls." These corner joints are dovetailed.
Large beams between the eighth and ninth course of logs on the long side of the cabin are added to secure the walls and provide support for a second floor. Notches cut in the top log or "plate” hold the roof rafters. Finally, the shingled roof is set into place. The steep pitch sheds rain and snow.
Captions: Log cabins such as this were
built without siding-siding
was added later. At one time
this cabin had siding of
Jensen cabin as it appeared prior to restoration in 1981. This site is named Wadeson Park in honor of Jewel and Oscar Wadeson who donated the cabin and property to the State Historical Society in 1957.
The man in the back row, on the right is Carl Bjerke Jensen. He is posing here with his family, circa 1880s.
Through the years, this cabin has been a community hall, a store, a pioneer home and an icehouse.
1) Trees are felled and stripped of bark. A bottom log or "sill" is positioned on top of a foundation to keep the wood cabin away from damp soil
2) The walls are started by laying the third log across the end of the sill logs. Corner joints are hewn one by one for a snug fit.
3) Dovetail notches are cut with an axe or more precisely with a sow. Dovetail notches are named for the resemblance they bear to the shape of a dove's tail. This joint with its beautifully complex angles, is easier to make than it looks. The angles lock each course or layer of logs in place, making it impossible for the logs to roll out.
4) The round notch joint and v-notch or saddle notch are other simple and stable joints to construct. They both shed water well preventing rot caused by fungi.
Erected by Federal Highway Administration, NODOT, Garrison Diversion Recreation Grant, Daughters of Pioneers and Valley City Food & Beverage Tax Fund.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Architecture • Settlements & Settlers. A significant historical year for this entry is 1878.
Location. 46° 40.408′ N, 97° 56.684′ W. Marker is near Kathryn, North Dakota, in Barnes County. Marker is on 51st Street Southeast near 120th Avenue Southeast, on the right when traveling east. Located at Wadeson Cabin State Historic Site. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Kathryn ND 58049, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Wadeson Cabin Historic Site (a few steps from this marker);
Also see . . . Wadeson Cabin State Historic Site. (Submitted on July 6, 2021, by Connor Olson of Lemmon, South Dakota.)
Credits. This page was last revised on July 6, 2021. It was originally submitted on July 6, 2021, by Connor Olson of Lemmon, South Dakota. This page has been viewed 56 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 6, 2021, by Connor Olson of Lemmon, South Dakota. • Mark Hilton was the editor who published this page.