Fur trapper's log cabin that predated pioneers undergoes restoration

A log cabin that predated the coming of Brigham Young and the Pioneers to what is now Utah - and later sheltered Mormon settlers - is being restored.

The Miles Goodyear cabin, located on the grounds of the Ogden Temple, was built in 1945, two years before the Pioneers' arrival, according to W. Dee Halverson. He is a historic preservation consultant working with the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers chapter in Ogden, the group that is sponsoring the cabin restoration."Miles Goodyear was a fur trapper who was born in Hamden, Conn., in 1817," said Brother Halverson, a member of the Wasatch 3rd Ward, Salt Lake Wasatch Stake. "He decided in his youth he wanted to come out to the Rocky Mountains. He was an orphan and worked as an indentured servant for six years. During that time, he read about Jim Bridger and other mountain men. So when he was finished with his servitude, he worked his way across the continent and got to Fort Hall in 1839. He used Fort Hall [now in Idaho] as a base for his fur trapping. He trapped as far south as the Sevier River Valley [now in southcentral Utah]."

In about 1840, the fur market diminished, and Goodyear was obliged to pursue another livelihood. He chose a spot near the Weber and Ogden rivers where he built a supply post, Fort Buenaventura. As part of the post, he built the cabin in 1845.

By the time Brigham Young's group arrived, Goodyear had laid claim to about 300 square miles.

"So Brigham Young thought it wise to send Captain James Brown up to Fort Buenaventura to negotiate a purchase of all of those lands as well as the fort that Miles Goodyear had constructed,"" said Brother Halverson. "He negotiated this purchase, and a deed was transferred to Captain Brown in November 1848. Thus the Church for the sum of about $1,950, was able to acquire under Brigham Young's guidance all of what is now Weber County and most of Davis County, as well as the fort itself.

"Captain James Brown moved his family into the Goodyear cabin, and from that point, the settlement became known as Brownsville, until it was incorporated in 1851. Then it was named Ogden, after Peter Skene Ogden, an earlier fur trapper.

"So the significance of the Miles Goodyear cabin is that, first, it is the only surviving structure from that fur-trapping period. Second, it was built by a settler who paved the way for the settlement of Brownsville, later Ogden, to become the focal point for colonial expansion to northern Utah from the Salt Lake Valley."

After the Brown family had lived in the cabin about 10 years, it was purchased by the A.P. Stone family of Ogden. Amos Stone used it as a residence and later as a blacksmith shop. Then his daughter, Minerva Stone Shaw, acquired it. In 1928, she deeded it to the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers as a historic landmark.

In 1928, Elder George Albert Smith of the Council of the Twelve, who was then president of the Utah Landmarks Commission, dedicated a plaque on the site of the cabin, then known as Ogden Tabernacle Square but now called Ogden Temple Square. From that time, an effort was made to preserve the cabin with a canopy and wire structure.

The current project began Dec. 27 with the removal of the canopy and the systematic dismantling of the cabin. Each of the some 500 pieces was numbered, and the cabin will eventually be reassembled like a jigsaw puzzle, this time without the canopy, Brother Halverson said.

Meanwhile, the logs will be treated to preserve them. A solid rubber membrane will line the roof to make the structure weatherproof.

"The logs will be rechinked with an acrylic material," he said. "It hardens to the surface, but remains somewhat malleable on the interior; that would keep it a bit more weather tight."

He said some of the native plants that were indigenous to the area in Goodyear's time will be placed around the cabin, similar to what was done with the Osmond-Duel cabin currently on display in the plaza between the Museum of Church History and Art and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

In fact, museum director Glen Leonard and Don Enders of the museum staff provided advice.

The Ogden Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, under the direction of Colleen Tippetts, president, and restoration committee members Dauna Seager, Maryloo Stephens and Donna Vest, raised $20,000 for the project.

Completion will be in two phases. In the first phase the cabin will be reassembled in July or August. A grand re-opening is scheduled for 1995, the sesquicentennial of the cabin's construction.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed