New life for an old cabin

  • Working to install insulation prior to applying Perma-Chink material between the logs of his small cabin is Ken Haley of Clinton, left, along with his friend Joe Tool of Rocky Hill. - G. Chambers Williams III

  • Ken Haley of Clinton looks over the inscription carved into the exterior of the small log cabin he just reassembled in his back yard overlooking the Clinch River. It shows that the cabin was built for the 1982 Knoxville World’s Fair. - G. Chambers Williams III

  • Charley and Kathy Garvey prepare to chink the interior walls of the Appalachian-style log cabin being erected by Ken Haley behind his house in Clinton on Saturday, Sept. 19. - G. Chambers Williams III

Clinton’s Ken Haley has wanted his own log cabin since he began playing with a set of Lincoln Logs toys he got for Christmas as a child.

He’s wanted to build one he could live in, but that hasn’t happened, so he’s finally settled for something considerably smaller.

This month, he’s been setting up a nearly historic small log cabin – just 8-by-10 feet – in the back yard of his home along the Clinch River on Riverside Drive.

Although his restored cabin didn’t come from pioneer times, it does trace its history to the 1982 Knoxville World’s Fair, where it was erected by Peter Gott and R.O. Wilson as an example of the Appalachian way of life.

That’s carved on the front of the cabin, which until Haley bought it had been sitting on a farm in Union County, where it was rebuilt right after the fair closed and it had to be moved, Haley said.

“I was working and heard some of my peers talking, saying they knew where there was a log cabin for sale,” he said.

“It was owned by the father of a friend. I said I’ve always wanted a small one, so I bought it from him for $350. I had to go up there and take it apart and bring it down here.”

Haley kept it in storage for 10 years before deciding this summer that it was time to bring it out and set it up, he said.

“It was all there, and in good shape except for the roof. The logs are notched, and we’ve put it all together and put a new metal roof on it.”

This past Saturday, Haley and some friends gathered around the cabin to “chink” it – putting the fill material between the logs to keep the weather out.

They used Styrofoam strips that were then covered with a putty-like material called Perma-Chink, which dries to make it look like the mud settlers would have used on their mountain cabins.

“I tell everybody it’s for the grandchildren,” Haley said. “I’m looking forward to putting a small wood-burning stove and a cot inside it, and sleep out there when it’s snowing. I belong to a camping club, and we go camping four times a year, all four seasons. The winter one is my favorite.”