CCC crews built multiple shelters across the canoe route, as well as “a bear-watching tower at Pack Creek and a series of improved trails and shelter cabins to support a canoe route from east to west across the island through a series of fresh-water lakes. A 1936 Tongass National Forest brochure promoted the system of trails, portages, and three-sided shelter cabins on Admiralty Island as a unique way to experience the wilderness.”
“Work on Admiralty Island began in 1933, with three CCC crews totaling 23 men. By 1934 four shelter cabins had been constructed. In 1935 crews built the trails, more shelters, and installed a dam at the outlet of Beaver Lake to make it navigable to LakeAlexander. By 1936 there were over thirty miles of trails, two boat portages, seven shelters, thirteen skiffs, and the Big Shaheen cabin and its seaplane mooring float. More improvements were made in 1936 and 1937, including three more shelters, more trails, and a small dam at the mouth of Guerin Lake (then known as Shiels Lake).”
A 1995 documentation form of the National Register of Historic Places describes the cabins along the Admiralty Island Canoe Route: “Fifteen three-sided shelters were built at the beginnings of portages. The three-sided shelters were of the Adirondack style. This style was apparently developed by early trappers and hunters living in the Adirondack region of the eastern United States. Such shelters had a saltbox roof (a gable roof with one slope extended), with the shorter slope overhanging the open front. Built low in height, the shelter could be heated by a campfire built in front of the open side. Rather than being made solely of logs, the Admiralty Island shelters were framed with peeled logs and poles then covered with split cedar shakes. All of the shelters were built of materials obtained at or near its location.
Fourteen of the Admiralty Island shelter cabins were of a standard design, measuring about 10’6″ X 12’8″. Peeled local spruce and hemlock logs from six to ten inches in diameter, with braces up to six inches in diameter, were used for the post-and-beam frame. The posts were set on wood sill foundations, notched with a saw and axe to accommodate the butts of the posts. The roof was constructed of log rafters from six to ten inches in diameter, supporting parallel log purlins from three to five inches in diameter. The purlins, and the horizontal nailers on the walls, were originally on sixteen inch centers to accommodate thirty inch long shakes. Shakes about 3/4″ to 1 1/2″ thick were split of local spruce (possibly yellow cedar at some sites) and laid two deep. Roof shakes overlapped, while wall shakes were abutted end-to-end. Galvanized nails were used throughout. The overall appearance is a three-sided salt box with exposed post-and-beam construction and a smoke vent along the length of the ridge. The floor was earth or perhaps gravel, except for one shelter with a concrete slab (49SIT-322, Hasselborg River Cabin). This cabin also has a granite and concrete fireplace.
The fifteenth shelter cabin (49SIT-375) is the ruin of a three-sided structure, built slightly larger than the others and using a conventional horizontal log style. It appears on USGS (1951) and USFS (1964) topographic maps marked as a cabin at the Thayer Lake trailhead, but it is not mentioned in the CCC documents reviewed. A structure of that design and dimension labeled “Adirondack Shelter” appears in a 1937 USDA Forest Service “Emergency Conservation Work” design book for camp stoves and fireplaces. The Thayer Lake site might have functioned as a CCC-era cabin shelter or boathouse.”
United States Department of the Interior National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Documentation Form, The Admiralty Island Civilian Conservation Corps Canoe Route, 1933 - 1937, (http://dnr.alaska.gov/Assets/uploads/DNRPublic/parks/oha/publications/ccccanoeroute.pdf), accessed on June 6, 2017. Cross Admiralty Canoe Route: (http://www.alaska.org/detail/cross-admiralty-canoe-route), accessed on May 6, 2017.
Project originally submitted by Brent McKee on June 6, 2017.
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