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Historical Survey of Log Structures in Southern Appalachia: Page 9

An essay with 84 images that illustrate how environment can contribute to the formation of culture

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Page 8 (Images 66-74)

Page 9 (Images 75-84)

Like Appalachian cribs, smoke and spring-houses are patterned after the one-story Pennsylvania outbuilding. Both types of building are used for food preservation and many were built totally of stone masonry for increased insulation (75). Spring-houses served as the farmstead refrigerators and were constructed over a running stream, usually from a spring (76). Sometimes water was piped through fitted log pipes, or short Lengths of copper, to the enclosed "house" (77).

Smokehouses are used for curing and storing meat (78). Within the smokehouse, salted meat was placed on wooden benches lining the walls. The floor is usually dirt, to allow a slow hickory fire to be built in the center of the floor.

Aside from these storage buildings, several outbuildings for housing animals were constructed of log, such as hen-houses, and pigsties (79). These are the basic structures that were once found on Appalachian farmsteads.

The first settlers in the mountains were solitary individuals maintaining self-sufficient homesteads away from "civilization". As time progressed and settlers poured into the Appalachian mountains, the first communities were formed. Buildings necessary to community life were also constructed of log in the early history of Appalachian settlement.

Among the first public buildings in a new settlement were gristmills (80). To the newly forming mountain communities they were the first industry and were essential to the life of any town. Some were little more than a roof on log posts (81), but for their sluice-poers, water wheels, and mill dams, Appalachian settlers used log construction.

In pioneer times a mountain community was lucky if there was a one-room schoolhouse to attend (82). Sessions usually ran two or three months during the year to allow students time to help at home with crops. Lack of qualified teachers and poor facilities were some of the problems of rural mountain education. In the years before the move toward consolidation, one or two room log structures like these frequently served the mountain communities (83). They housed grades one through eight, the extent to which many mountain children were educated, even into the early years of this century.

Nowhere are log structures more prevalent than in the mountains of Appalachia. They have retained their regional integrity and serve to distinguish Appalachia from other regions of the country. Scholars, historians, and others are recognizing the need to study and preserve these vanishing architectural remains of American pioneer life (84).

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