Nothnagle Log Cabin, Gibbstown
c. 1638

The oldest standing log cabin in North America, and possibly the oldest standing wooden structure in the Western Hemisphere, sits right here in New Jersey in the form of a simple log cabin built around 1638 by Swedish or Finnish settlers. Located in Gibbstown, New Jersey the C.A. Nothnagle Log Cabin is known throughout Salem County as a historic site of great interest. Early immigrants from Finland and Sweden brought with them their knowledge of architecture and building and were the creators of the first log cabins in North America during the 17th century. Now owned and shown to the public by Doris and Harry Rink, the C.A. Nothnagle Log Cabin has been preserved and restored to a state which its original owners would recognize. This cabin is listed in the National Register of Historic Sites and may possibly have been built by a man named Benjamin Braman, however, its builder and precise date of completion are unknown.

(Christina R. Coats, Spring 2003)

C. A. Nothnagle Log Cabin, c.1638, Gibbstown (Gloucester County). Photograph (c) Walter Choroszewski. Used with permission of the photographer.

View of Nothnagle Log Cabin. Photograph courtesy Waymarking.

The C.A. Nothnagle Log Cabin is a wonderful existing example of early log cabin construction. Square-hewn logs complete with dovetail ends are the backbone of the cabin structure. Upon a base of rock barely seen in the ground, the logs were placed horizontally around the base, building upward. Like other early 17th century cabins, this log cabin was originally made without metal nails of any kind. Instead, its builder utilized trunnel pins, also known as treenails. Trunnel pins are simple small wooden dowels, with one edge given a wide wedge shape to help hold it secure when hammered into place. These were usually made out of a hard dense wood such as locust.

A low beamed ceiling shows that there is no apparent ridgepole in the roof to attach roof rafters to. The cabin was held together merely by the buildersÂ’ inventive design of weaving dovetailed logs with the support of trunnel pins. During the early days of immigration many newcomers brought their own building tools and supplies with them from their homelands. In the back corner of the cabin is a brick fireplace believed to have been built of imported Swedish bricks brought to New Jersey by the builder himself. Throughout the cabinÂ’s early life it had a modest earth floor; this was covered with pine board flooring around 1730, about 100 years after its construction. (CRC)

Note: In 2013, the C.A. Nothnagle Log House was selected for the Best of Gibbstown Awards for Historical Organizations.

References: (see link below). (see link below).

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