Click to enlarge photosLand purchased by the State of Maryland for the Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area included two historic buildings: Red Dog Lodge and a log cabin said to have been built in 1848. The lore is that the cabin was used as an assay office for the Tyson chromite mining operation. It was apparently well maintained for most of its decades and was well preserved when I photographed it in the fall of 1974 before much restoration had been done. There were no windows or doors, but it had a real foundation (maybe even a cellar), intact chinking, and a mostly functioning roof. Soldiers Delight’s first ranger, E. Vernon Tracy, organized some restoration, and by the spring of 1975 the windows and doors were boarded up and it had a new roof, or at least a different roof. In 1974 there was a patched composition shingle roof, and in 1975 there appeared to be a wood shake roof, but not necessarily a brand new one. So I’m not sure what changed.
The cabin was said to be made of American chestnut logs, and the photos are consistent with that. I think the joins at the corners are referred to a saddle notched, a common feature of 19th century log cabins. It seems to have been a prize artifact, which unfortunately was destroyed by an arsonist in 1985.
I don’t remember photographing the cabin in 1974, or even that I knew of its significance. Neither do I remember photographing it in 1975 or being there with Bill Fastie, Florence Rogers, Jimmy Poultney, and Vernon Tracy. I assume that is Vernon Tracy in uniform, whom I don’t remember ever meeting. He was the first ranger at Soldiers Delight and this meeting must have been a special occasion. I don’t think it was a big ceremony, and it was not the same day as the Red Dog Lodge ceremony, because Jimmy Poultney is wearing a different suit and tie. But it was apparently an important day. I’m glad I was there.