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Raffle will aid project to replicate 1887 log cabin

OLCOTT – A group of residents, spearheaded by Newfane Town Supervisor Timothy Horanburg, wants to bring a piece of local history back to life by replicating an 1887 log cabin which once stood in Krull Park.

The group will hold a basket raffle on June 14, with doors opening at noon and drawings beginning at 3 p.m., at Newfane Community Center, 2737 Main St. The Ye Olde Log Cabin project received a $170,000 grant from the Niagara River Greenway Commission in March and needs to raise another $40,000 to complete the project.

“Half of that $40,000 will be cash and the other half will be in-kind services,” said Horanburg. “For example, we’ll (the town) dig the basement ourselves. And we got the (federal) grant to redo Main Street, so we’ll be using the bricks we dig up there to help build the brick and stone fireplace at the cabin.”

Horanburg was referring to a $336,880 federal grant the town received to upgrade the commercial stretch of Main Street later this year.

Olcott native Stella Wilson, who chairs the cabin project committee, said a local farmer also has offered field stones to complete the cabin’s fireplace, which originally was brick, with a stone foundation.

Horanburg said he faintly remembers the original log cabin along the shores of Lake Ontario, which was torn down in 1957. It had been built by the Niagara County Pioneers Association.

“This is something I’ve wanted to do for years and I put together a committee a year ago,” he said. “We thought we’d try to get Greenway grant money, because it fit right in with what they do, and we got it.

“And, I think this log cabin will fit right into what we’re trying to do down there in Olcott,” he added. “We’re going to try and reconstruct the cabin as closely as possible to the original. We’ll use it as a museum and a place for school kids to come.”

The group is selling “log ends” to help finance and maintain the project. A personalized 10-inch log end is $300 and a personalized 8-inch log end is $150. They can be personalized with a family name just like the originals were, and they will be hung inside the finished cabin. Contact Horanburg at 778-8531 or Wilson at 778-9887.

“We are also raffling off a log end during our basket auction June 14,” added Wilson, who said that sales have been steady.

“We are really excited about this project and I can’t wait to see it built,” she said. “We hope to break ground this fall, after the tourist season.”

The original 24-foot-by-30-foot cabin was built by the Niagara County Pioneers Association in 1887-88. The organization had been founded in 1877 by Olcott resident Andrew TenBrook and its first picnic was held in TenBrook’s “Pine Grove” in Olcott Beach on Sept. 17, 1877. It is recorded that as many as 1,500 attended the first picnic, and the second picnic attracted a reported 5,000, to share food and listen to music, speeches and poems.

In a few short years, the picnic had grown so popular that more than 10,000 were reported to have attended, and the decision was made to build a cabin “for the safekeeping of pioneer relics donated to the organization” on the picnic site.

A number of notable Newfane and Olcott residents donated items for the construction, including brick and stone from TenBrook’s own Pavilion Hotel in Lockport and the hearthstone from Charles Whitmore of the Rattlesnake Hill stone quarry in Lockport.

Pioneers showed up with axes, saws, hammers and oxen to erect the cabin.

Log ends were cut prior to the placing of the logs and names were written on them to be displayed in the finished cabin. Ye Old Log Cabin was dedicated at the organization’s picnic on Aug. 8, 1888. One year later, Theodore Roosevelt, then New York’s governor, spoke at the picnic.

The International Railroad Company, which owned the Pine Grove at the time, tore down the Olcott Beach Hotel and several other buildings in the grove in 1937, and the cabin was in danger of the same fate. Frederic Krull, of Niagara Falls, a member of the pioneer association, bought the land, saved the cabin from demise, and donated the land to Niagara County to become a park.

But the cabin later fell into disrepair and the pioneer association disbanded in 1956. The original log cabin was torn down in 1957 and many remaining relics were taken to the Niagara County Historical Society and Newfane Historical Society. It is hoped many will be returned to be displayed in the new cabin.

The committee is accepting donations and any information or photos of the cabin, particularly of the interior.

For updates, visit Ye Olde Log Cabin on Facebook.