"The Greatest Log House"

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by Steve Tall, Jan 4, 2016.

  1. Steve Tall

    Steve Tall

    Aug 28, 2010
    Imagine a log building that's 320-feet long, with 124 huge logs standing as pillars (each log weighing over 50,000 pounds and big enough to provide lumber for a 5-room house). All of the logs were cut within 50 miles of a major U.S. city.

    The location is Seattle, and the building was constructed for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific exposition of 1909.





    "The whole front of the forestry building at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific exposition is a colonade, or, rather, a pergola of huge fir logs...In every one of the 124 huge logs of the colonade there is sufficient clear lumber to build a five-room bungalow, with enough in the rough left over for a woodshed and something in the way of a fence.... It is the largest log house ever erected. Any one of the big sticks will tip the beam at 50,000 pounds, and under each Is a pier of reinforced concrete. They are forty feet high and extend across the whole front of the structure, which Is 320 feet . All of them were cut within a radius of fifty miles of Seattle, and they were hauled to the exposition grounds over a railroad spur constructed for the purpose. During the exposition the structure will house the state's forestry exhibit; the manufacture of lumber being western Washington's chief Industry."

    from A Great Exposition by Welford Beaton, The Pacific Monthly, Volume 22, July 1909

    Other photos from:
  2. Operator1975


    Sep 24, 2010
    OMG I can't believe it was torn down. Impressive to say least! Great work Steve as always!
  3. BG_Farmer


    Mar 13, 2014
    Wow! A little bigger than im planning, but some good ideas :)! Reminds me a little of something Tolkien's elves might have inhabited.
  4. Steve Tall

    Steve Tall

    Aug 28, 2010
    I didn't notice the writing on this photo until it was enlarged, it shows an 18" squared timber that's over 156 feet in length.

    Another reference mentioned that there were two dice on display that were each 6-feet high (solid blocks of wood, of course.)
  5. M3mphis


    Jan 13, 2011
    Wow! Amazing. Why was it torn down????
  6. quinton


    Nov 4, 2006
    That's almost unbelievable! Thanks Steve!
  7. Steve Tall

    Steve Tall

    Aug 28, 2010
  8. quinton


    Nov 4, 2006
  9. halfaxe


    Nov 29, 2012
    Impressive. Both the building and Steve's post. I think if they would have peeled the bark off before construction and protected the wood with wide overhangs and a good foundation it could have lasted for centuries.
  10. Square_peg

    Square_peg Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    I can make an educated guess. Those logs weren't peeled. And they spent 20 winters in Seattle.
    They were most likely rotten and unsafe.
  11. 300Six


    Aug 29, 2013
    Far out! And thanks for this. A crying shame that they had to take this building apart.

    If you Google "Chateau Montebello" you'll discover a similarly grandiose log structure that was built in Canada, in between City of Montreal and City of Ottawa in 1930, that is still standing and still in use (a posh hotel and conference centre!), and that is nationally revered. Going up 3-4 stories with horizontal stacked logs (which shrink and expand with weather and the seasons) was quite the engineering stunt! The owner's bank financing and mortgage hinged on it's being completed within 4 months and the project manager knew perfectly well that the local French Catholic population couldn't/wouldn't work on Sundays. So what they did was sponsor a 4 month long all expenses paid coincidental-timed sabbatical excursion to Europe for the local priest, and offered a little more money to the workers that agreed to work on Sundays. Plus they brought in (then new-fangled) electric lighting so the project could go 24 hours a day.
  12. Steve Tall

    Steve Tall

    Aug 28, 2010
    Here are some photos of the Chateau Montebello being constructed. Amazing that it was built in only 4 months. (3,500 workers were used.)






    Previous photos from http://www.albertburger.com/log%20chateau.htm

    Hexagonal fireplace in the rotunda, with two mezzanine levels.
    (Photo from Wikipedia article.)
  13. MrFixIt


    Jul 28, 2014
    Wow, some impressive log building there...
  14. JonathanCharles


    Dec 31, 2014
    This is the most delightful thread I have ever read! Thank you so much Steve Tall!
  15. Old Axeman

    Old Axeman Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 10, 2015
    Thanks for posting these great pictures. My favorite log structures photos are when they photo documented the actual construction, then you get to see the axemen using their broadaxes, adzes, axes, etc.
  16. Steve Tall

    Steve Tall

    Aug 28, 2010
    Some information about the logs used in the Canadian structure:

    "The largest shipment of logs in the history of the Canadian lumber industry... from Pacific coast forests... seventy-five flat cars... 8,636 logs... all peeled [Western] Red Cedar, ranging in length from 18 to 60 feet... [Seasoned for at least] nine months, and most of the logs have been seasoned for more than a year..."

    From The Montreal Gazette, March 20, 1930, page 6

    Some more details (diameter and taper of the logs; dealing with expansion and contraction; etc.) can be found in The Ottawa Citzen, June 28, 1930.
  17. Double Ott

    Double Ott

    Jan 3, 2011
    Simply WOW! Thanks for sharing Steve.


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