Bear River Tie Hack Cabin Restoration
Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Utah, 1998
by Myrleen Healy, PIT Volunteer
Tie hack cabin, you say? Just what is that? These cabins were built by the men who ventured into the woods during the 1860s to 1920s to cut railroad ties to build the transcontinental railroad. Using big, heavy-headed broad axes, they could cut and shape a tie in 17 minutes. These ties would be cut in the winter and then stored behind splash dams which they built across the creeks. When spring runoff started they would break the splash dams and the water would deliver the cut ties at a gathering place on the Bear River. The railroad company would pick up the ties out of the river and put them directly into railroad cars bound for other parts of the line.
The Bear River Tie Hack cabin was moved from deep in the woods on the North Slope of the Uinta Mountains to the Bear River Ranger Station about 10 miles north of Mirror Lake. It will be furnished with period items and photos from the tie-hacking era and will be a neat place to visit. Our job was to build a new floor, repair the inside, put on a new roof, and re-mud the spaces between the logs.
My husband Max and I had a great time, and you couldn’t have asked for better hosts. We had a full trailer hookup back in the forest all by ourselves, and were treated to a full course barbeque one night by the Evanston/Mountain View Ranger District staff. We also had a dutch-oven dinner with the whole PIT gang. It was a great experience meeting and working with fellow volunteers Ed and Dorothy Sather from Eugene, Oregon, and Lanny Hathaway from Spanish Fork, Utah. We worked hard and finished rebuilding the cabin. Now we can say, “Look at what we did!”
If you want to really have a great time and help out while you’re doing it, you should try a PIT project. They’re great!