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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Log Structures of the Appalachians - Part I

The First Settlers - Part I of VIII

The first settlers in the Appalachian Mountain Regions emigrated from previously settled areas in the United States. Germans and Scotch-Irish from Pennsylvania, English from the Eastern sections of Virginia and the Carolinas, and Scandinavians from the Delaware Valley—all traveled further West and South to the rugged, isolated mountains of Appalachia.

As they settled the area, these people retained elements of their distinct European heritage and changed their traditions to suit a particular environment. Old and altered traditions merged with one another in the mountains to produce the distinct culture of Appalachia.

The architecture of early Appalachia is one variety of folk art which exhibits the unique combination of German, Scotch-Irish, English, and Scandinavian cultures in the Southern Highlands. These structures were as unique, as the individuals who built them.

Log construction began in the Scandinavian regions before the Bronze Age. The first structures were simple rectangular buildings made of horizontally-laid round logs with corner notching. This basic form, known as the "Single Crib" or "Single Pen" has remained unchanged from as early as 10,000-8,000 BC and is ancestor to all log construction in America.

The first log structures constructed in the American Colonies were the English "Garrison Houses" and Dutch "Blockhouses" of New England. Intended as military fortifications, these structures were built to withstand siege. The logs were hewn and vigilantly fitted together, and the second story was cantilevered over the first.

Although the English settlers were familiar with this system of horizontal log construction they built their homes of the frame-clapboard or "Half-Timber" construction that was common in England.



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