Sunday, March 11, 2007

Stump Homes

Cleaning off my desk the other day(which just resulted in re-organized piles), I found this picture my dad sent me. In the 30's and 40's the Big Tree Inn was a few blocks from where I grew up near Des Moines, WA. DesMoines was originally a log town, with mills and docks for loading logs on ships, and now it is a nice little bedroom community of Seattle with a cool marina and a handful of beach parks. The "Big Tree Inn in the Charmed Land"was built from a 2000 year old redwood tree. The original living tree was 300 feet tall, the dbh was 20'. The butt end, shown below on its side, was sawn in half before being loaded onto a rail car, then hollowed out and reassembled into this tiny restaurant for the hungry traveler. A chicken dinner with all the trimmings could be had for $1.50. Sadly it burned before I was around to see it.
Oddly, it bears not a small resemblance to The Stump House in Eureka, CA. This place too met its demise by fire in the 90's.

The following two pictures of stump houses are by Darius Kinsey, the "Ansel Adams" of the pioneer days of the Pacific Northwest. Lots of folks lived in stump houses...a good use for the enormous stumps left behind.

"A fiddle, a bicycle and thee..." how much fits in a stump house? The small print says this house was 8x10 inside.

You can see the springboard notches on the side of the stump. The caption says the window was the most expensive item in the house. You can see a real stump house at the Tillamook Pioneer Museum in Tillamook, OR that an old skanky trapper guy lived in. I think it makes a wonderful house. On the other hand I'd rather leave the tree on top, too.
Of the few period articles I've found about stump houses, it seems the locals viewed stump squatters as eccentric...of course people who lived in stumps had no other option. You can read about one resident here . Most of them spoke of their stumps with affection.
What would it be like to live in a stump? Sam lived in one in my favorite childhood book, My Side Of the Mountain(by Jean Craighead George) . I imagine a stump would be just enough, and nothing more. One could learn many things from "just enough".


Bitterroot said...

As usual, I followed your links and thoroughly enjoyed the journey.

Paul said...

Really nice post. I don't think I'll ever have any trees that big in my forest.


burning silo said...

Great post, Celeste. I've been inside a few redwood stumps that were big enough to set up housekeeping!

robin andrea said...

I'm so glad bev of Burning Silo reminded me to stop by here. I'm only familiar with the stump houses in Eureka, Ca. Nice to know there are others scattered about.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Wow! What nice homes those stumps seem to make! I've never heard of that before!