Stabilization of historic Shumway Cabin

Photo provided by Kay Shumway.

Volunteers, archaeologists, family members, and the State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) came together this past spring for a remarkable restoration project of the Shumway Cabin in Recapture Wash. Over the past few months, the early 1900s historic cabin was stabilized in hopes that it will be around for another 100 years for the enjoyment of visitors and descendants of its original inhabitants.

The cabin was originally built by the Peter Minnerly and Mary Elizabeth Johnson Shumway family and it was Kay Shumway of Blanding, Utah originally brought the condition of his family’s historic cabin to the attention of Friends of Cedar Mesa. Together with Woods Canyon Archaeological Consultants, we dreamed up a project that would protect this historic site, which is located on SITLA land. A photographer and avid hiker, Kay helped orient SITLA archaeologists and Woods Canyon Archaeological Consultants to the location he has routinely visited since his childhood. Archaeologist and volunteer Jay Willian then helped get the project going by recording the historic site in which the cabin is located. 

The condition of the cabin was quite precarious, with many of its walls crumbling and its front entrance lost to the cutback embankment of Recapture Wash.

With funding from Friends of Cedar Mesa and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the cabin underwent a serious makeover to restore it to its original dimensions.

First, the cabin was recorded in the Utah archaeology database and next, an adjacent cottonwood tree that threatened the integrity of the structure was removed with the help of Thomas Wigginton of TM Premier Services out of Monticello.

It was a tricky operation removing this cottonwood without damaging the structure.

In May, volunteers overcame days of stormy spring weather and pesky gnats to stabilize the cabin by “repointing” the existing mortar and adding roofing and window boxes to match the original dimensions of the cabin. FCM volunteers and Woods Canyon’s team matched the new mortar with the same local source of sand that was used when the cabin was built. In total, volunteers from Blanding, Bluff, Salt Lake, and Colorado contributed over 85 service hours in preserving the cabin.

Kay stands in front of the stabilized structure.

Jason Chuipka, co-owner of Woods Canyon Archaeological Consultants and the vision and brains behind the project said of the accomplishment, “The Shumway Cabin was in critical condition prior to this project, and was close to collapsing into a pile of rubble. With a little planning and a lot of labor, we were able to save this piece of Utah history for many decades to come. This would not have occurred without the successful collaboration between state agencies, professional archaeologists, volunteers from across the area, and members the local community who all put value in preserving the past.”  

“SITLA is grateful for the efforts of Friends of Cedar Mesa, Woods Canyon Archaeological Consultants and the community of volunteers who participated in this very worthwhile project. Thank you so much for keeping one local family’s and the wider community’s heritage alive and tangible for today and into the future,” said Kenny Wintch, an archaeologist with SITLA. Friends of Cedar Mesa is planning on working more with SITLA to bring interpretive signage and some protective fencing to the location in the fall of 2017. If you’re interested in participating in future projects at the Shumway Cabin, shoot us an email.

Before and after aerial footage provided by Kay Shumway.

Friends of Cedar Mesa is especially grateful to Kay Shumway, who made this project come to life.

When we asked Kay about the completed project, he shared these kind words with us: “The Shumway family deeply appreciates the stabilization of the cabin and it will be a place where we can gather and tell family stories that help hold us together as a family. When we can understand what our ancestors did we are more determined than ever to make good use of our lives and pass this appreciation on to our descendants.”

Volunteers help repoint the cabin, stabilizing its walls for new roofing and beams.

Author: Amanda Podmore

Amanda Podmore is the Assistant Director of Friends of Cedar Mesa.

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