Log Homes Go a Log Way Back
Although most Americans would associate log homes with the pioneers who explored this country centuries ago, the rustic structures actually have their origins much further back. Perhaps the first written description of the homes comes from a Roman architect named Vitruvius Pollio around 15 BC. But there is evidence that shows the first log homes were probably built as far back as 3500 BC in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia.
From Europe, with Log
As many of the first settlers had their origins in those countries, it’s no surprise they would utilize their knowledge of log homes and take advantage of all the trees the New World had to offer. Their ancestors had been so accomplished as log home builders that building them was second nature to the settlers.
According to historians, the first examples of log homes in North America were probably built in the Delaware River and Brandywine River valleys by Swedish settlers (many of whom would have actually been Finnish because Sweden controlled Finland at the time). When these colonists were eventually absorbed by the Dutch and finally taken over by the English, not only did they stick around, but their architectural prowess spread. Immigrants of all European backgrounds, who had no history of log home construction, began adopting the methods and building homes of their own.
Strengths of the Log Homes
The homes were so well received for many reasons. For one, timber was in abundant supply. Second, log homes were generally being constructed in the North and Northeast where winters were ferocious. Log homes made out of the strong trees that were domestic there provided unparalleled protection. Along the same lines, the materials needed for log homes were quite simple. The builders needed timber and a sharp axe. Often insulation was included, but the material needed was generally moss, other foliage and some mud. If the builder only had himself to work on it, he could still construct a log home in only a few weeks. With help, the process would go even quicker. Once the log home was built, it could stand up to any of the elements the new land could throw at it. In some places, there are stories of earthquakes not being able to knock them over. Lastly, of course, were the Fins who had had so much history perfecting the structures; there is a log home structure in Finland from over 4000 years ago. Some places in Northern Europe had over a dozen different styles of log home.
As settlers progressed in their lives in the New World, the log homes they once lived in often became chicken coops, shelters for other animals or used for storage. The oldest living log home in America is the C. A. Nothnagle Log House which has its origins in 1640.
Nowadays, log homes are often seen a luxury item. People purchase them as a second home, often by a lake for a weekend getaway. Many are easily two stories high and outfitted with the newest toys. But less than five hundred years ago, the early immig rants from Europe had no higher hope for them than that they would keep their families warm.
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