While growing up I always envied people who had a family member with a cabin, someplace to go and get away. I never had that. So, I needed to be the guy that had the cabin.
My brother and I had been hunting in northern St. Louis County since 1978, and I liked the area. In 2002, my wife and I started to look for property. We decided on land instead of lakeshore due to space and taxes. Also, there are many lakes in the area. We closed on the property that fall. My son and I surveyed the area the next February to find a place to build the cabin.
That winter I found a drawing I liked, and read a couple books on framing buildings. My wife got me a gift of a Porter Cable framing nailer. I then bought a generator and air compressor. I got the needed permits, and we started to build the cabin in spring 2003. We cleared the trees. I rented Bobcats, drilled pier footings, and mixed tons of cement by hand for the footings with my son, brother and his wife, and son-in-law. I provided the material list to a local lumber. With the help of many friends and family, we started to build. I was lucky to have a friend whose son was a framer and another an electrician. Their generosity was incredible.
My son and I trenched 200 feet of service cable 24-feet deep in the rain on his 14th birthday. My son was an incredible asset, with natural talents and instincts. Now he is an engineer at a major medical device company. My wife’s help and patience were fantastic. We had many grueling weekend days building, and on Sunday during the drive home I was planning the next weekend’s building objectives.
I estimate that the first four years we spent about 160 weekends, most vacation days, and drove more than 65,000 miles to get the cabin built. It’s been 13 years since, and we still enjoy working on things. My brother and his wife go up often and cut and split firewood and handle other chores. I have four grandchildren, and they love going to grandpa’s cabin.
We safely ride four-wheelers, have meals together, try to grow pumpkins each year (not well,) and check out the local seasonal events in town. My son-in-law has an annual golf trip with his buddies that has been going for 10- plus years. It is a rare thing with grown children and young grandchildren (four under 6) to have a place to go and all be under one roof. The noise, the mess, the chaos — it’s awesome! I look forward to many years of enjoyment, together at our cabin.
Gordon Berglof, Shoreview