Article & Photography by Joshua Beasley, Honest Abe Log Homes
About thirty “river miles” downstream from the Wolf Creek Dam in Kentucky, sits a Cumberland River retreat, a quaint hide-a-way and tribute to a family patriarch.
Randy Fudge, former President of Honest Abe Log Homes, remembers spending many Spring and Summer holidays on his sister’s farm near Burkesville, Kentucky. His sister Charlotte and brother-in-law Danny purchased a 150 acre farm in 1990. For years following, the family would gather on the bank of the Cumberland River to picnic and fish. “We always seemed to gravitate to this one particular spot down by the river,” Randy recalls with a grin, obviously reliving fond memories. “Someone, often times my Dad, would always mention that we needed to build a cabin on the site one day.”
The family kept on saying, “one day”, and that day finally came about 15 years later. In 2005 they started on the construction, something that comes natural for Randy. He grew up around the construction industry, as his father built many homes during his career. Randy went on to college and majored in Industrial Technology, and soon after graduating, he started his career at Honest Abe Log Homes. Through the years, he climbed the ranks of Honest Abe, making his mark in creating and managing the company’s dry-in construction service which still goes strong today. Now, as President of the company, he attributes much of his success to the knowledge and experience passed down to him by his father.
As the cabin construction began, so did the rewards and challenges. “We were doing it all on the weekends, so it was a pretty casual build and took longer than even I expected” says Randy. Even though the cabin is small, they took their time. Randy’s niece Allison often helped along with friends like Dale and Ann Payne and former co-worker Rachel Meadows, who enjoyed spending time helping them. A drive of over a mile is required from the highway, passing by countless rows of corn and soybeans to reach the site near the river. The cabin itself is only 560 square feet, and was initially designed for the company to use at log home shows that are hosted around the country. The family adapted the design to best suit the location, but kept the size small and cozy. The most notable feature is the gable wall of windows facing the river, which provides perfect views from within. While the cabin is on the power grid, the family has to pack in fresh water, held in storage tanks under the floor. They even worked in a small bathroom, a must!
Touring the property, it’s obvious that many personal touches have been included to encourage the bonds of family. One interesting landmark, acknowledged even by Randy to seem a little strange, is an old outhouse found near the cabin. “Our dad had a creative spirit which he passed down to Charlotte and I. He loved to build things. When his health kept him from building homes, he started building models. Dad was well known for constructing doll houses, and even replicas of outhouses (or as he called them, privies) that were common in the area when he was a boy.”
His father’s models turned into quite the nostalgic success, selling them as far as England and Holland. Randy goes on to talk about how his dad grew up during the depression. The government led WPA (Works Progress Administration) made vast improvements to their rural area with roads, schools, bridges and so forth. Another improvement was the construction of many outhouses. When the family happened upon a WPA outhouse at a local estate sale they expressed an interest to purchase it, much to the surprise of the organizers, and it was happily given to them free of charge if they would just remove it from the property. It now functions as a small storage shed near the cabin, but stands mostly as a memorial.
Other unique elements have been added by his sister Charlotte, who’s well known in the area as a local artist. Charlotte retired from teaching art several years ago, and now takes on commissioned work to fuel her creativity. One of the most recent additions is a screened door in which she hand painted a Rainbow Trout mural on the exterior side of the screen. When a shelter was added to the location, a stone floor was installed that didn’t quite look right to the family. With her talents, Charlotte painted a large screen to give the appearance of a stone floor, then stretched it over the existing one. A small trout statue stands in the front of the cabin which she made from concrete and gravel, an homage to the fish found just yards away in the Cumberland. Other personal touches can been seen throughout, but Charlotte and Randy teamed up to make their kitchen cabinets special.
“Dad used to build a lot of FHA houses, so the need for low-cost, yet well functioning cabinets was constant. He could knock out a set of cabinets in a day, and I was always tasked with helping him,” says Randy. When it came time to make their cabinets for the cabin, it was decided they didn’t want or need anything expensive. Randy continued, “I decided to make them out of Birch plywood like we used to, but it took me a little longer than it took dad.” From there, Charlotte added her personal touch, painting a turkey, trout and a deer on the doors, each commonly found wandering the property.
Since its construction, the family has used it as a base for fishing, canoeing and enjoying their farm. “I don’t use it as often as I would like to,” said Randy, “But it’s a great place to escape, enjoy the peace and quiet, do a little fly fishing, and Abbey my Labrador loves having the extra space to run around.” The family agrees that autumn is probably their favorite time of the year, when a small fire in the pavilion feels perfect. It has even hosted a few Honest Abe events and occasionally houses guests of the family.
The cabin was built from a custom design, using Honest Abe’s 8” x 8” D-Log profile, offering exceptional energy efficiency. It also features the company’s Heavy Timber Roof and Ceiling Systems, which utilized large exposed beams for its structure. The family chose to use Perma-Chink’s Driftwood color of stain, providing a washed and naturally weathered look to blend into the farm and river surroundings. The pavilion was built using Honest Abe’s 8” square Douglas Fir Timber Frame product.
While some may expect company executives to have sprawling vacation homes with plush amenities in exotic locations, Randy prefers the simplicity of their cabin with the accompaniment of friends and family close to home. This tiny cabin located on the waterfront of the Cumberland River provides the perfect location to relax, be appreciative and honor the past, while building many more memories for the future.