History on the move

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An authentic 1850s cabin will soon grace the historic park in Fort Lupton

By Gene Sears

A project in the works before beginning the construction of historic Fort Lupton, a donation of an 1854 trapper’s cabin on the South Platte River is moving forward, and north to the society’s historic park.
    The cabin comes to the society through the generosity of property owner Bob Kinney and some hard work by South Platte Valley Historical Society members Jim Barrington and Bernie Kindahl.
    According to the SPVHS, the one-room log cabin originally served as a trapper’s home and was used as a residence as late as the 1940s by Kinney’s aunts. The property the cabin sits on has springs with fresh water ponds where the family once raised trout for the Brown Palace.

    Barrington and Kindahl, both retired educators with the society for just over a year now, took on the task of preparing the structure for the move to Fort Lupton. The two exposed the current foundation so it could be lifted up and removed the plaster, lath and ceiling that were later additions.
    “We have the cabin pretty well gutted out. It had a lot of plaster and lathe in it. It had a beautiful hardwood floor in it, probably from the 50s, so we had to take the flooring out.”
    Another consideration is the layout of the cabin itself, modified throughout more than a century, to return the structure to the original form and intent.
    “We have taken it down to what we believe is more or less the original building,” Barrington said. “We did note though, that the building was either added on to in the early years or there was a second log cabin incorporated into it.”
    The plan is to keep the cabin and the adjoining structure intact and period correct, and build a new foundation on site to locate the cabin between the fort and the Donelson house.
“It kind of fits in the timeline there,” Barrington said. “ It’s quite a distance now between the Donelson house and the fort, so I think when people are walking back and forth it will be a real help to have something in between.”
    Located in Commerce City near where Highway 85 intersects I-76, the cabin will soon make the trip to Fort Lupton, on the back of a semitrailer specially equipped to relocate fragile structures. It’s a complex process requiring permits, landowner permissions and expertise on the part of the mover, who will likely take advantage of the wee hours on a Sunday morning to reduce traffic obstacles.
    “He was supposed to show up Monday, but he is a couple days behind,” Barrington said. “It’s going to take him three or four days at least to shore it up. He has to build a frame to put it on and all of that before he can actually move it.”
    Likely opening for visitors in the spring of 2013, the cabin adds yet another facet to the already impressive collection of pioneer artifacts and structures at the park.
    “It’s a going to be a great addition, and it really fits in with the whole theme of the fort,” Barrington said.

Contact Staff Writer Gene Sears at