by Bill Jehn
The Red Fern Snowmobile cabin was built in the winter of 1977-78 as a result of the mysterious burning of the two existing structures at the lake. One was a log cabin built by Web Brown (Guide and Outfitter) and the other a frame tent left by one of the mining companies doing exploration work.
Gerry Chiulli did the necessary legwork to get approval from Lands & Forests to cut the logs and build a new cabin under the name of "The Red Fern Hilton Society". This group of avid snowmobilers initially raised about $400. for roofing materials - 2X4s, plywood and rolled roofing.
The location was chosen to escape the wind at the lake and minimize the contact with the float plane traffic at the lake. Construction started in November 1977 by persons having no prior experience in log building. For this reason it looks better the higher the logs get.
Also, it was never set on rock so it is doomed to rot into the ground. Many snowmobile trips were made that winter to haul roofing material, to cut, skid and peel logs, and to erect them. It is a tough job peeling frozen logs in the middle of winter.
Fred Davies and Ed Cline used their alpine Skidoos to do most of the log skidding. The construction crew during the log and roof erection phase were -Ron Stewart, Wayne Zuccatto, Dave & Gerry Ghiulli, Mel & Jim Lumley,Brian & Fred Davies, Wayne & Ed Cline, Tom & Curtis Emes, Steve Quinn, Bill Jehn and John Miller.
March of 1978 saw the logs go up and the roof go on until Nov. 1978 at which time the ground was well frozen with very little snow. We had 3/4" plywood and 2X6s for the floor, insulation and paneling for the ceiling, 2X4s and plywood for the beds and table, and a 45 gallon barrel stove with a Selkirk chimney. This was enough of a load for two pickups.
John Miller used his 1972 3/4 ton 4X4 Ford while the other truck was a 1973 Chev 3/4 ton 4X4. Both trucks were chained up on all four wheels and each truck had a winch. On this trip there were also nine snowmobiles and sleighs. The most difficult part of getting the loaded trucks in was crossing the Besa River. The trucks had to winch across because the ice kept breaking.
The Ford's long front drive shaft got badly bent when the truck fell into a huge hole in the Nevis Valley, but the intrepid mechanics on the trip removed the drive shaft, heated it over a wood fire with a small propane torch, straightened it, and it ran with no vibration at all. This trip introduced some new members to the society and construction crew in the persons of Marty Schwab, Jim Hunting, Walter Malanowich and Pete Snider.
The interior of the cabin was finished on this truck trip and many, many groups enjoyed this cabin over the next few years. About ten years later the inside was painted and a new window cut in the south wall. New rolled roofing has been added twice and a new outhouse built and moved once. The cabin needs ongoing maintenance in the form of new roofing (preferably Metal) and a new chimney as well as a new toilet hole.
The cabin was repaired in the fall of 2004 with new bunks, tin roof and chimney. These were installed by Roy Lube and Dwayne Dancy from the Northland Trailblazers Snowmobile Club.
March 19-22, 2009 saw new cabinets, shelving installed and a general clean up. a new stove pipe flapper and rain cap were added to the chimney and a new wood box built. Screens were placed on the outside to prevent wildlife from breaking in. Thanks to Al Cardinal, Jim Wassing, Mike Hicks, Jadon Christianson, Lou and Luis Cardinal and 81 year old Art Girton who volunteered their time and located the supplies.
Note: We will be posting the history of the club itself at a later date.