The Dogtrot

I have mentioned a few times here that our home began as a cabin in 1840 and was modernized in the 1920’s.  Apparently, modernization of your cabin was quite common, and often took place over time.

I’m certain that many scenarios went like this.

The main cabin was constructed and this construction was known as a pen.  The upstairs was accessed by a ladder or notched log, and this loft was the sleeping quarters.  The fireplace cooked your meals,  kept you warm and dry in winter and turned the inside of the cabin into a furnace in the summer months!

Later you built an outside kitchen to keep the house cooler.  You also added a second pen with what we would call a breezeway in between them.  This new structure would become what is known as a dogtrot cabin.

Further modifications that would happen as time went by would be to add the kitchen as a separate room on the back, and even later in time, the luxury of an inside bathroom!  😉

We had the opportunity to do a bit of exploring this past Sunday on the mountain and ran into an excellent example of an old dogtrot cabin.  This is very similar to the construction of our home on the Mountain Farmlet.

On the outside of our old cabin the owners really updated the look by adding a clapboard covering (the front) and a *board and batten veneer over sides and back of the log structure.  Later they enclosed the dogtrot and added windows to the cabin to make it match the new addition.

Can you see our home’s history when you look at it now?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe dogtrot is behind the cow.  The previous owners closed in the center door.  It is our intention, as time goes by, to open the doorway back up and make it the main entrance.

The old place is like the “Haunted Shack” at Knott’s Berry Farm in California.  Which means that nothing is entirely level, nor is it square.

HauntedShackOK, it’s not that bad.  😉

However, the foundation men have been here this past week and the floor is sound and newly supported with proper house supports.  Gone are the rocks, tree stumps, and logs, that were rotting away and bug ridden.


NOTE:  I want to give a special shout out to the fellows at Quality Foundation and Repair out of Muscle Shoals, Al.  They started this job and worked in very cramped quarters to see that it was done, and even went into extra innings to remove the 7 layers of rotten bathroom flooring, two of which were sandwiched old carpeting!  You just wouldn’t believe it if you saw it, and unfortunately I forgot my camera that day.


Construction terms and a bit of history can be found below:

A complete explanation of the types and construction of the log home can be found here in a PDF  entitled:  The Pioneer Log House of Kentucky by William J. Macintire.  I feel that this is a comprehensive and awesome read!

*Board-and-batten:  an exterior treatment of vertical boards with battens (smaller boards) covering the seams.

*Clapboard:  an exterior treatment of horizontal boards that overlap as you build them up.  Look HERE