In a column last fall, Historic Routt County discussed the importance of a leak-proof roof and good drainage to the preservation and maintenance of Routt County's historic agricultural and early homesteading buildings. No building is better evidence of this than the Diamond Window Cabin overlooking Stagecoach Reservoir on Routt County Road 14. In our office is a picture of the cabin taken in 1985. Although all its window sash and doors were gone, its ridgeline was ramrod straight. It stood tall against the hillside. But the wood shingles were weathered thin, their edges receding, and in many places they were missing altogether. Twenty years later, several of the rafters have rotted and failed, the ridgeline sags ominously, and the cabin is sinking into the hillside.
Recognizing its iconic stature attained during years of standing sentinel over Morrison Creek Valley, HRC took its first steps toward restoring the Diamond Window Cabin to its 1985 appearance in 2006. This winter and spring, we are renewing that effort. With help from local contractor Cactus Beauregard, retired industrial arts teacher Johnny Walker and volunteer Dr. Brian Edwards, we shored up the roof and walls to withstand this winter's snows and winds. We were able to use recycled framing lumber from HomeResource at the Milner landfill. We plan to begin the restoration this summer.
Because of the extent of the deterioration, the restoration will involve repair and wholesale replacement of sections of the sill logs where they rotted into the hillside. The loss of drainage above the cabin caused water to pool around the sill logs, saturating them time and again with every rainstorm. Years of winter snows were banked against the logs, as well, keeping them moist and ripe for decay.
The roof will be reconstructed with replacement rafters and sheathing boards, and the logs at the top of the walls will be pulled in and stabilized. Next fall, we will all see a restored Diamond Window Cabin once again standing proudly on the west side of Blacktail Mountain watching over Stagecoach Reservoir.
How will we accomplish all this? With a little bit of luck, generous contributions, a lot of hard work, and a new partnership with Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus. Together, we are bringing to Routt County the historic preservation program developed at the Timberline Campus in Leadville.
The curriculum uses three core components to learning: classroom, laboratory and field experience known as experiential learning. The partnership between HRC, our regional nonprofit historic preservation organization, and CMC is unique among college programs, and it is highly synergistic.
This summer, CMC students and community volunteers are being offered an opportunity to take a full credit course about log structures preservation and reconstruction taught by a regional log restoration professional. The course is scheduled for four weeks - July 20 to Aug. 14. The Diamond Window Cabin will be the field-based laboratory.
Townsend H. "Towny" Anderson is the executive director of Historic Routt County.