Nancy Graham and her kids, John, Greg and Kari, moved a 160-year-old tamarack log cabin from a farm west of Amery, Wis., in the early 1970s. They gained help of a few friends over two summers. Nancy had bought 80 acres of land near the Chequamegon National Forest, 12 miles south of Ashland, Wis., in the late 1960s in attempt to move back to the earth.
The family camped near the site and worked every other weekend to reassemble the rustic escape. The logs were transported in the back of a U-Haul van, log by log.
The cabin was built with tamarack logs and joists. The interior was built out of reclaimed barn boards and rough-cut white pine boards for the loft and floor.
I married into the family in 1982 and shared in the North Woods refuge. We replaced the roof in the 1980s, put in Andersen windows and built shutters to protect them. All the work was completed with no power tools and lots of sweat.
The cabin is furnished with an airtight wood stove, wooden tables, benches and cots in the loft. No running water, porta potty or solar lights.
The paradise sits amid medium- to old-growth sugar maples, birch and hemlock and is home to fisher, bear, deer and monarch butterflies in the meadow. We use the place as a base for fishing, hunting, hiking — and many nights, glass of wine in hand, staring in the wood fire. The place is a total tribute to my wife and kids for the vision to protect such a jewel.
Gary Gehrman, Stillwater