Monday, August 15, 2016

Log home construction takes center stage in New River Gorge region

Skybridge at AOTG
Two hundred years after they first appeared, log homes are growing popular again in West Virginia, according to a designer who's drawing on traditional mountain forms for inspiration.

Though log construction never quite disappeared in the mountains around the New River Gorge, Vickie Darby says luxury log homes are being built with greater frequency, notably near parks and recreation areas.

"Here in the New River Gorge region we've witnessed a dramatic increase in demand -- not only where cabins and luxury homes are concerned, but in uncommon cases where recreation facilities are being developed," she says. "In recent years we've been asked to provide materials for everything from bridges at rafting basecamps to bathhouses for Boy Scouts."

A designer for Wilderness Wood Co., located on the Meadow River at Nallen, W.Va., Darby says she attributes the demand to increased appreciation for the durability and energy efficiency of log and to the growth of the outdoor ­recreation industry.

"Log buildings can conceivably last for thousands of years with very little maintenance, and their insulation factor is unmatched ­­in terms of heat in winter and cool in summer, but sound as well."

A native of the New River region who had long studied design and log construction, Darby began to apply her knowledge of traditional methods to create unique designs especially suited to the
environment.

Dogtrot design draws on tradition
Most recently she adapted a plan common among English settlers that featured a central breezeway, or "dog­trot," arranged between two cabins. Her plan allows light and air into the center of the home while recalling some of the earliest home designs.

Not coincidentally, log houses and log cabins were among the first to be built in the woodlands of central Appalachia where forests were so dense that other building methods were impractical. By the late 1800s these vast forests were being harvested to provide milled lumber for home construction throughout the U.S. At one time Nallen, where Woodland Log Co. is based, was home to one of the largest lumber mills in world.

Darby says she expects the demand for specialty wood products to increase as log homes increases. In addition to providing wood products such as posts and beams and siding, Wilderness Wood Co. is also one of the region's leading providers of chinking and stains for logand wood sided homes.

Visit Wilderness Wood Company for more information on products and services and log home construction in West Virginia.

(Bridge photo by Stephanie Todd)

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