Kaibab National Forest employees, partners and volunteers have received an honor from the governor after restoring a fire watch cabin built in 1911.
The restoration work completed on the Kendrick Mountain Fire Lookout Cabin will be honored by the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office and the Arizona Preservation Foundation. Neil Weintraub, an archaeologist with the Kaibab National Forest, said he was "thrilled" about the award, saying he felt the award recognized the challenges of restoring a 108-year-old structure in the wilderness at high elevation, according to a press release.
“Our partners and volunteers have worked tirelessly to ensure that Kendrick Mountain Fire Lookout Cabin can be enjoyed by the public for another 100 years,” Weintraub said.
The cabin in the Williams Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest was built in 1911 and is one of the oldest structures associated with Forest Service wildlife detection. Seasonal personnel were housed in the cabin until the 1930s, and in 1988 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. By adding it to the list, it was established as a site that deserved preservation.
The project to restore the cabin after a Douglas fir tree fell on its roof in 2016 received the Governor’s Heritage Preservation Honor Award to recognize the excellent historic and cultural preservation efforts in the state. The tree originally destroyed five of the six support beams.
The restoration required a partnership with Northern Arizona University, Davey Mac Studio and Workshop, American Conservation Experience and many volunteers. The project took two years to complete.
Forest Service employees, partners and volunteers carried thousands of pounds of materials and supplies up the slope of Kendrick Mountain, according to the release. McKee designed a padded backpack to carry the 8-by-3-foot, 70-pound steel panels that were needed to replace the original roofing.
The project required 16 separate trips, each a 2,600-foot climb up a 4-mile trail to the cabin. Volunteers packed hand tools up the mountain to rebuild the cabin’s support system and make other repairs. Mule teams helped bring in items like water and mortar.
Project partners reused as much original material as possible and used local timbers to treat the replacement roof so the patina would appear historical.
“I don’t think the cabin would have remained standing through the past winter if everyone hadn’t worked together to make it happen,” said David McKee of Davey Mac Studio and Workshop. “To have finished this phase literally as the sun was setting and snow was coming felt very gratifying.”
Kaibab National Forest representatives and partners will be presented with the award at the Preservation Awards Ceremony during the 17th annual Arizona Historic Preservation Conference on Thursday.
“It has taken generations of people who care, each doing what they could to contribute to Kendrick Cabin’s preservation,” said Teri Cleeland, former historian on the Kaibab National Forest and author of the site’s National Register nomination. “Recognition from the State of Arizona for these efforts is an honor and tribute to everyone who helped make it happen.”