Little log cabin goes to college

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[June 16, 2016]  LINCOLN - On Tuesday morning, the Jefferson School log cabin was lifted from its resting spot and transported to Lincoln College’s Creekside Outdoor Center for Environmental Education.

The day began at approximately 8 a.m. with Brad Matthews and the crew from Matthews Construction working to free the little building from the ground where it sat at the corner of Sixth and Adams in Lincoln.

To get to the cabin, there was a good amount of plant life that had to be dug out or at least cut back. The cabin was lifted slightly and iron railroad rails placed underneath it. Then it was ready for RBG Towing and R & L Towing. When they arrived, the large wreckers lifted the building into the air.

Goodman Trucking and Excavating arrived with a lowboy flatbed trailer and tractor. It took a few tries to get the lowboy “true-up” to the cabin, but when that was accomplished, the trailer rolled underneath the cabin then the cabin was set down and secured for transport.

The cabin was then taken north on Adams to Woodlawn Road, west to Lincoln Parkway, north to Illinois Route 121 and then on up to Creekside. At Creekside the cabin will be sat down at its new home along the tree line that leads to the creek.

District 27 Superintendent Kent Froebe with Dr. Dennis Campbell

On hand watching the process was Dr. Dennis Campbell, the director of Creekside. Campbell said he was excited to have the cabin come to the environmental center, and said it would become an important part of the “Peoples of the Past” attraction that is being planned for the center.

Referring to it Tuesday as “walking backward in time” Dr. Campbell explained that the “Peoples of the Past” area will be a village that site by site will take visitors back in time to prehistoric days. The plan is to include the cabin as part of the pioneer days display.

Another portion of the walk will include Native American habitats, and finally, ending at the creek, nearby to where pre-historic bones have been found, will be the prehistoric habitats.

Also on hand to watch the event was the cabin's builder, Pete Fredericks. Fredericks said he too was excited that the little cabin would go to good use. He quipped that the cabin had spent several years in elementary school, but now finally, it is off to college.

Fredericks has built a total of six log cabins in the last 12 years. The first was the Lutheran Chapel, located on the curve at Fifth Street and north Logan. The Jefferson cabin was the second. He also has a cabin at Morning Side Mobile Home Park. Fredericks said the other three; he built on his own property when he and wife Ruth lived in the country.

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He noted that they have now moved to town and sold their country home, but it is his understanding that the current owner has kept the cabins in place. In addition, Fredericks said he was currently working on a miniature cabin that will be given to grandchildren.

Inside and out, the cabin looks pretty true to original, but Fredericks said that it was nailed together. He said that had to be done for safety purposes. Spreading out his hands he indicated that he had used spikes at least 12 to 18 inches long, to secure the logs at the corners. He also pointed out that the cabin is constructed of old electric poles.

Inside the cabin, there is a handmade wooden plaque that says ‘In God we Trust.” Fredericks had explained that there used to also be a plaque over the door that said “God Bless,” which appeared to have gone missing.

There was a big moment of excitement, and perhaps a good omen, when that little plaque was found lying in some overgrown landscaping just a few feet from the cabin. Though in pieces, the plaque appeared to all be there. It was found by a member of the Matthews crew, and Brad Matthews gave it to Dr. Campbell. It’s a pretty sure bet that when the cabin is ready for the public, that little plaque will be there somewhere.

The log cabin was given to Lincoln College by Lincoln School District 27. At the end of this past school year, it was announced that Jefferson School would close permanently and children who normally attend there would next year attend Northwest School.

The school building was purchased by the city of Lincoln, with plans of making it the new headquarters for the Lincoln Police Department.

Creekside is located approximately 4 miles due north of Lincoln, Illinois, off County Road 2000N halfway between County Road 1100E and 1225th Ave; from Co Rd 2000N take the gravel road Small-Edwards Trace north to the center.

[Nila Smith]


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