14 of Pop Culture's Coziest, Craziest and Creepiest Log Cabins
Future presidents, rugged individualists, sweet-faced fictional teenagers who may or may not survive the night—it seems as though everyone’s logged time in a cabin. Let’s salute those homestead farmers, rustic charmers and ... undead harmers, shall we?
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1. The Great Northern Hotel from Twin Peaks
As Special Agent Cooper advised Sheriff Truman in the televised cult classic, “Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it, just let it happen.” In his case, that gift is a gimme: He spends the entire series living in a damn fine example of Pacific Northwest chic. It isn’t always the safest place to be, but as far as locations in David Lynch productions go, it’s a fairly solid choice.
2. The Ingalls Family’s Little House on the Prairie
Little House on the Prairie has reportedly been on the air on a continuous basis somewhere in America since it first aired in 1974. It was also a smash hit in Spain in the late ’70s and early ’80s, which speaks, one could argue, to how people of all ages and backgrounds want Michael Landon to build them a house.
3. Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace
The logs from the cabin in which the 16th president was said to have been born ended up functioning, as the story goes, much like the miniature Lincoln Logs you can buy in toy stores today. They were taken apart and reassembled many times as exhibition replicas all over the country.
4. Henry David Thoreau’s Cabin on Walden Pond
Though Thoreau is one of American history’s most celebrated loners (and he spoke lovingly of “that glorious society called Solitude”), he wasn’t actually much of a hermit. The one-room cabin in which he lived in for two years was just a mile away from the town of Concord, Massachusetts—and he had frequent visitors, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Call it New England’s foremost minimalist literary salon.
5. Johnny Castle’s Cabin in Dirty Dancing
Nobody puts Baby in a corner, but young Jennifer Grey was more than happy to curl up in Patrick Swayze’s humble quarters at Kellerman’s Catskills resort. Their interlude could be the most romantic scene ever filmed on a set that consisted mostly of bug screens.
Speaking of romantic scenes in the woods, Season 8 of The Bachelorette took Emily Maynard and one of her suitors to Dolly Parton’s rustic theme park in the Great Smoky Mountains (where Dolly sang a special song about how “love finds a way” and pulled Emily aside for girl talk). Dollywood isn’t all rough-hewn facsimiles of 19th-century grist mills, but Ms. Parton also saved an entire cabin full of orphans from an evil witch in A Smoky Mountain Christmas (1986) —which, one could argue, makes her a patron saint of the lifestyle.
7. The Shining’s Overlook Hotel
The Torrance family thought they hit the jackpot when they got the opportunity to spend the winter at the Overlook, and it’s easy to see why. Room 237 is best avoided and the elevators are a little temperamental, but the resort is Rocky Mountain living at its most luxurious. Who would want to leave?
8. Hunter S. Thompson’s Colorado Cabin
At Owl Farm, Hunter S. Thompson’s 42.5-acre spread near Aspen, Colorado, the gonzo journalist raised a flock of peacocks, hosted movie stars and accidentally shot his assistant. He also spent more than 30 years pounding away at a typewriter in the basement office of his two-story log cabin (which is now a part-time museum for his fans).
9. Black Larsen’s Cabin in The Gold Rush
Charlie Chaplin’s 1925 silent movie about the Klondike Gold Rush is the textbook definition of “cabin fever.” When his Lone Prospector character is snowed in with two other fortune-seekers during an Alaskan blizzard, he is forced to cook and eat one of his own shoes, then mistaken for a giant chicken (and attacked and nearly devoured by one of his roommates). And you thought spotty cell service in the mountains was rough.
10. Calamity Jane’s Cabin
In the 1953 musical western Calamity Jane, Doris Day became the subject of what was probably the first filmic cabin makeover. As Calamity, she submits herself (and her shabby Deadwood bachelorette pad) to her new roommate’s “woman’s touch.” DIY enthusiasts: Note that “with a tack tack here and a tack tack there / and a hand around a hammer / with a mop mop here and a mop mop there / you can give a cabin glamour.”
11. Ash and Friends’ Spring Break Cabin in The Evil Dead (and Sequels)
Sam Raimi’s classic horror franchise established several important rules for young people looking to vacation in safety in remote cabins: Don’t read from books which appear to be bound in human skin, for one thing; don’t trust people when they try to convince you they’re no longer possessed by demons, for another; and finally, and most importantly, you’re going to need a chainsaw.
12. Johnny Cash’s Tennessee Lake House
A sprawling property made of everything from local stone to old barn wood, Johnny Cash’s home on Old Hickory Lake was a palace for country royalty. What the nearly 14,000-square-foot home lacked in humility it more than made up for in authenticity: Cash wrote many of his songs at the house, and he and June hosted everyone from his neighbor Roy Orbison to Billy Graham and Bob Dylan there.
13. Howard Hughes’ 'Summertide'
On the other side of the country, the reclusive tycoon Howard Hughes (once ridiculed for developing the “Spruce Goose,” a massive plane made of wood) nursed his raging hypochondria in an Adirondack-style timber hideaway on the Nevada shore of Lake Tahoe. Built in 1934, the property has a detached four-car garage that’s as large as a log cabin itself. It was reintroduced to the market last fall for a cool $19.5 million. (The Spruce Goose, now at a museum in Oregon, is not for sale.)
14. The Majestic Yosemite Hotel
Known until March of 2016 as The Ahwahnee, The Majestic Yosemite Hotel was built in the 1920s and has hosted Queen Elizabeth II, JFK and Charlie Chaplin (who presumably preferred it to the log cabin where he ate his shoe in The Gold Rush). It’s considered a masterpiece of national park architecture and was declared a national historic landmark in 1987. The “redwood” exterior beams are actually poured concrete stained to look like wood, so the elegant hotel might not technically count as a log cabin. But it’s nestled at the center of one of America’s most beautiful natural spaces, it’s open to the public and as far as anyone knows, it’s not haunted. What more can you ask for, really?