A log cabin dwarfed by a Big Tree in Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park, ca.1920
A log cabin dwarfed by a Big Tree in Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park, ca.1920

In the final installment on the construction and outfitting of a wilderness camp from the book “Woodcraft” by E.H. Kreps, 1919, we wrap up all the loose ends. Kreps reveals where the camp is that this was modeled after and furnishes a list of supplies that would be needed for two people. If you missed the beginning of the series, please follow the links below.

1st Installment: Selecting a location and initial preparation of a wilderness camp

2nd Installment: Construction of walls, floor, door and windows for a wilderness cabin

3rd Installment: Construction of gables and roof for a wilderness cabin

4th Installment: Finishing the wilderness cabin door, window and filling cracks

5th Installment: The stove

6th Installment: The bed

7th Installment: The table

Finishing the wilderness camp

Luxuries become necessities through use. The furnishings which we have so far brought into our cabin may be considered as coming properly under the heading of necessities. But there are many little extra pieces that may be added which may be called luxuries at first, but through use they become almost indispensable. On the walls we will build shelves and we find them very useful places for storing odds and ends. A small shelf is placed on the wall near the stove to hold the lamp, and another similar shelf for the same purpose is placed above the left end of the table. Then there are two or three longer shelves placed in convenient locations. These shelves are all made of hewn boards supported by stout pins driven into auger holes.

If we are not by this time too tired of making boards with an axe, we will make a wooden tub in which to wash our clothes. Since we have a saw this is not as difficult as it first appears. It is made square with sloping sides. The boards must be carefully fitted and securely nailed. Then, after we have made it as tight as possible by nailing we will gather a small quantity of spruce gum and run it into the cracks from the inside by means of a hot iron, in much the same way that we would solder tin plate. A wash basin can be made in the same way, but we have a tin basin in our outfit so we’ll not need to make one.

Behind the stove we nail a slender pole, horizontally, onto wooden pins driven into auger holes, so that the pole is parallel with the wall and about six or eight inches from it. On this pole we place our socks and mitts to dry when we come in from the day’s tramp. We hang our coats on nails driven into the wall. Our snowshoes we suspend from the roof with snare wire in the coolest part of the camp, so that the mice cannot eat the filling or the heat make it brittle.

Perhaps you would be interested in our camp outfit, for it is adapted to use in a camp of this kind. We have come into the woods for the fall and winter, and while we will go out occasionally for supplies of food, our outfit is supposed to be complete, and in it are all the articles needed for an entire winter’s stay in the wilds. The following are the articles which we have brought with us as camp outfit: Two rabbit skin blankets, two large all-wool blankets, one large and one medium enameled kettle, two tea pails, one water pail, one large frying pan and two small ones, with sockets for handles, three enameled plates, two enameled cups, two table knives, two forks, two table spoons, two tea spoons, one reflecting baker, one wash basin, one small mirror, four towels, one alarm clock, one small oil lamp (bottom portion of a railroad lantern), three small axes with long handles, one cross-cut saw, one hand saw, two flat files, two sharpening stones (pocket size), one auger, one hammer, assorted nails, a dozen small bags for holding food, a small box of medicines, and a repair kit, consisting of needles, thread, wax, scissors, awl and small pliers.

The above is the actual camp outfit and does not include personal belongings, such as guns, traps, toilet articles, compasses clothing, snowshoes, etc., things which are used more on the trail than in camp, and while necessary in our business cannot rightfully be considered a part of the camp equipment. Even some of the articles mentioned, for instance the two small frying pans, are more for use on the trail than in the home cabin.

This, and the preceding chapter, describe what to my mind is an ideal camp for two persons and a perfect equipment for same. The camp site described could not be improved upon, and it is seldom that we find all of the requirements in any one place, yet the description is that of one of my own camp sites, and except for the size of camp and a few details of furnishings and outfit, also describes one of my cabins, one which I constructed and used while trapping in Canada.


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