Nestled four miles into Spearfish Canyon right at the base of a steep cliff wall, a couple sits on the porch swing of a log cabin, listening to the trickling of a creek.
Owners Pat and David Simpson have lived in many states, but today they find themselves enjoying every day in their 19th Century home.
“We know that it’s one of the original homestake mine cabins that were built in the late 1800s,” said Pat.
She says she and David bought the single-acre property in 2013, though the original land grant states that the property was first owned in 1893. And Pat speculates that the cabin was constructed in 1896.
Before they built on to the structure, the cabin had two bedrooms and one bathroom with a large clawfoot tub that Pat says may be original to the property.
Pat and David added another bedroom and bathroom, bringing the space to 1,100 square feet.
“We didn’t do much at all to renovate the original cabin,” recalled Pat. “We just built on a bedroom and bath for us and bought things for the kitchen and the bathroom to have them clean and nice.”
Pat’s favorite place in the house is in front of the original stone fireplace with her husband.
Though it once stood alone, the cabin now is connected to a garage and a second house with the same square footage where one of their sons resides. Scott Simpson and his wife, Sheryl, help out with property chores (read more about Scott here).
“We get a lot of snow in the winter, and it would be a challenge for us to get out there if it wasn’t a multigenerational, shared property,” said Pat. “Scott and Sheryl help with the [snow] plowing.”
In the past, it would have been hard to heat the cabin, but Pat says with their different heating stoves throughout, they manage it.
“I don’t know that it’s ever been a year-round cabin, but it is for us,” she said.
“The yard accommodates everything from badminton in the summer to an ice rink in the winter.”
Aside from the running water and electricity, the home highlights bring in the feel of the late 1800s and early 1900s. While Pat has many heirlooms from those time periods, some of her favorite possessions are her quilts.
“Many of them were quilted by my grandmother,” she reminisced. “I see pieces of cloth in them that remind me of dresses that I had when I was little, my grandmother’s dresses, and my mother’s dresses. Parts of that same cloth went into quilts.”
And even though she doesn’t make quilts herself, many aspects of the couple’s cabin are characteristic of the craft. Much like the way quilts bring different, unassociated fabrics into one cohesive piece, the interior of the cabin is made up of countless heirlooms. From Pat’s great-great grandparents’ bed frame to the dining room table and chairs, much of the furniture is authentic to the cabin’s time period, give or take a few years.
“These are probably what you would call primitive pieces,” she laughed. “[My great grandparents] didn’t have much money at all.”
One of her oldest pieces endured a journey all the way from Arkansas. “I have a blanket chest that my great-great-grandparents brought from Arkansas on a covered wagon in 1852,” said Pat.
Pat is also quite proud of their 1937 radio.
“It’s the kind that people sat in front of to listen to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats. And it still works,” she exclaimed. “We can pick up one station!”
» 1910 EDISON RECORD PLAYER
» BUTTER CHURNS
» CIVIL WAR ERA 1838 REVOLVER
» SADDLE BAGS
» WALL TELEPHONE
From the rusted metal roof to the original scuffed wood floors and wainscoting ceilings, the cabin is not only a home, but a time capsule of sorts.
“Life isn’t like it was then because we have our modern conveniences,” explained Pat. “But as far as stepping into the house, it feels like you step back in time.”