In partnership with the state Department of Natural Resources’ Northern Region Parks Division, The Folk School is hosting a 14-day cabin-building class, the outcome of which will be the construction of a brand-new, public-use cabin at Nugget Creek. Sandy Jamieson will teach a class of 10 people, who will start building the cabin in February.
The cabin will be on a hill in the Chena River State Recreation Area overlooking the South Fork of the Chena River near Nugget Creek.
The site is at the end of the newly renovated Mastodon Creek Trail, work on which was completed just last week, providing new access to this section of the park.
Jamieson, a log building preservation specialist and seasoned builder, has created a design for the new cabin to match the rustic aesthetic of the existing Nugget Creek cabin, which has become tough to maintain.
“The state feels like it (the existing cabin) is in rough enough condition that redoing the log structure is not worth the expense,” said Kerri Ramos, who serves as the programs director at The Folk School. “The new cabin is going to be in a different spot that is a little higher up and maybe a little less moist than where the current cabin sits.”
State Parks Northern Area Office Superintendent, Brooks Ludwig, confirmed this — though he explained that the current Nugget Creek Cabin will continue to be open to the public and will continue to be maintained for the time being.
“It’s kind of falling into the ground and it’s got some issues like voles and squirrels and things of that nature,” Ludwig said. “A lot of people love it, even though it’s old, but it’s kind of working its way into the ground. We’ll just keep it until the maintenance gets too much. But, for now, we’re going to leave it up.”
Ludwig said the cabin is still used regularly — just last month a group of moose hunters boated up the South Fork of the Chena and stayed there. Ludwig added that the state had considered knocking down the Nugget Creek Cabin and having the Folk School construct the new cabin in its place. Instead, the Folk School’s cabin will be located farther upland, far enough away to allow the state to keep both. Ludwig was particularly excited by the fact that, after roughly a decade of work, the Mastodon Creek Trail has now been completed, allowing easier access to both cabins.
“It’ll provide a good route for the bikers and hikers,” he said.
Ramos said the cabin-building class is not the first that The Folk School has held, but they aren’t regular occurrences.
“We had another cabin-building class 2 1/2 years ago, but it was not a partnership,” she said, before going on to explain that the upcoming class will involve construction of a far smaller cabin than the previous class had built.
Anyone interested in participating in the class is out of luck. The 10 spots have been filled.
“If a building is a natural fit with a lovely setting, it will be loved and cared for by people who shelter there,” Jamieson said about the design and construction of the new cabin. “That love and care is a key goal of responsible construction, and no doubt the most important measure of a ‘good job.’”
Jamieson will be teaching the course beginning Feb. 27. Under Jamieson’s expert instruction, participants will be exposed to all aspects of log cabin construction. In addition to the 14-day construction course, students are encouraged to participate in log peeling, coating and other prep work during the fall, and they are also invited to aid in reassembly and final construction in March at the Nugget Creek site.
“Alaska State Parks is excited to partner with the Fairbanks Folk School and log builder Sandy Jamieson,” Ludwig said. “We wanted a cabin to match the charm of the old Nugget Creek Cabin, and Sandy came up with the perfect design. What a great opportunity to learn from the best.”
The Folk School is a nonprofit that offers classes for all ages and skill levels in the traditional, creative and practical arts, according to a news release. The Folk School grew out of an annual summer program, which is still the school’s signature activity: “Week in the Woods.” The event invites students to live and study with an amazing cast of instructors, including woodworkers, craftspeople, artisans and naturalists, according to the release.
The Folk School seeks to enrich lives and build community by passing on skills and knowledge in classes that are hands-on, family-friendly, noncompetitive, affordable and connect people with the places they live, according to the release. For more information, visit https://folk.school.
Contact staff writer Alistair Gardiner at 459-7575. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMoutdoors.