The Beginning of Log Cabins in America

The origin of the first log cabins date back to the Bronze Age (3,500 BCE) in northern Europe. When Europeans began settling in America in the 17th century, they also brought their extensive knowledge and skills of wood construction. The Finns and Swedes settled along the banks of the Delaware River (New Sweden) in the 1630’s, and it’s believed that they built some of the first American log cabins. Later immigrants from Germany, Ireland, Scotland, and Britain followed suit and adopted their cabin-building technique.

So what made log cabins a popular home choice for early settlers and pioneers? First, cabins required few tools (the ax and froe) and simple materials (lumber), so resources needed to build one were fairly easy to come by. Secondly, the building process was relatively simple. For a single man, it would take only a week or two to build a one-room cabin. With three men, it could be done in just a couple of days. Trees have to be chopped down, trimmed, and then dragged to the home site. Then, the logs must be notched and put together with the chimney and fireplace. Roof shingles would be cut using the froe. Because of the weight of the logs, a lone man could build a cabin only about 7 or so logs high. But with a team of men, it was possible to build a two-story log home. These log cabins often lasted several generations, making them a reliable shelter for the rich and poor alike.