40 for 40: Kitsap County
Preserving the hearth and soul: the Yeomalt Cabin

by Gerald Elfendahl previous story | next story | all stories

“There’s an old log cabin in the Yeomalt forest and it’s where I long to be . . .”
Bainbridge Island folk sing “The Yeomalt Cabin Song” now at the National Register-listed Camp Major Hopkins, built by the Works Progress Administration in 1935.  Four generations of youth, seven decades of marine weather, insects, and lost building craftsmanship and skills had some cabin stewards in 2005 calling, “Bulldozers!” 
Historians, park rangers, Fred Walters (best log cabin architect in the Pacific Northwest), the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, and a PBS-aired film titled “Yeomalt Cabin,” rallied folks to “Team Yeomalt” (TY) and fun!
Forests were cruised for tall timber to replace rotting logs. The late-shipwright’s advice: “Drop trees at winter solstice. Sap’s lowest then. No sugar. Avoid rot.”
Traditional logger Dave Ullin aided boys, girls and Mayor Darlene “Whipsaw” Kordonowy on human-powered falling saws. “Timber!”
Cable TV shared excitement. Folks marveled as Jerry Harpole’s horses skidded logs to Bob Cederwall’s truck.
 “What’s a ‘spud’, grandpa?” (Answer: a tool for peeling logs). With one, soon bark flew. Folks age 4 to 84 debarked the logs. Pros thought, “Three months to peel’em in winter.” TY did it in 3 weeks in 25 degree weather. TY banner: “The Team that sweats together, sticks together!”
The Washington Trust’s moisture meter tracked log drying. A hardware store wall and “fir tree” thermometer tracked fun and fund raising– sing-a-longs, history shows, parades. Boys & Girls Club helped make Log Cabin Banks and placed ‘em all over town.
Everybody helped – nickel at a time, a Park Foundation check. Washington Trust helped steer grants.
A 500-year-rain storm found TY singing and all ahold of the 35-foot long shovel handle used for ground breaking. Permits and funds in hand, pros began heavy work.  Jeff Monroe, lifted the cabin – and chimney! Mike Brundige poured concrete floors and foundations. Terry Creasey rebuilt log walls. Volunteers cut two tons of cedar shingle bolts bartered in Moclips in part for Stradivarius roof shakes. Brundige’s team had’em on the roof as local woodworkers’ co-op crafted window frames.
There’s reason to sing!
*Footnote: In support of local efforts to save the historic log cabin, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation included Yeomalt Cabin in our 2005 Most Endangered Properties List. Following the community's successful advocacy and restoration campaign, Yeomalt Cabin is once again open for educational and recreational experiences: Camp Yeomalt Website
Our thanks to local Bainbridge Island historian Jerry Elfendahl for his frolicking recollection of the Camp Yeomalt campaign! 

This story is part of a series celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. This story shows how one of our most successful advocacy programs, the Most Endangered List, is used to spur a community to action. Each year we accept nominations for this list and announce them at the annual Preservation and Main Street Conference, RevitalizeWA. If you would like to continue to support advocacy programs like this, please consider making a special gift to the Washington Trust in honor of our accomplishments as we celebrate this year together! Continuous stewardship is needed to protect that irreplaceable legacy for future generations – we appreciate and look forward to your ongoing participation and support.

Here's to 40 more years of saving places that matter across Washington! Please sign up for our special weekly e-newsletter to recieve stories like this in your inbox all year long.

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