Piute Cabin

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Piute Cabin

Piute Cabin, located at the northwest end of Upper Piute Meadows (38.1975, -119.5422) was built for Mono National Forest[1] by the Civilian Public Service, starting in 1942 and finishing by August of 1944[2].

Construction by the Civilian Public Service

The Civilian Public Service (CPS), made up of conscientious objectors during World War II, engaged in various projects across the country, similar to the Civilian Conservation Corps. Workers from CPS Camp #37 near Coleville, California, constructed Piute Cabin, as detailed in their newsletter:

PIUTE MEADOWS CABIN CONSTRUCTION -- 1942

Piute Meadows is a green grassy meadow at 8500 feet elevation in the back country of the high Sierras [sic], 13 miles from civilization, accessible only by foot or horse-back. The meadow has a crystal clear stream winding thru it, with beautiful sand and gravel bars, and teeming with lively trout. It is surrounded by majestic Jeffery and Lodge-pole pines, which extent up the mountain side for about 2000 feet and then give way to the rocky peaks that ruse [sic] up sharply. These peaks are topped with snow from one season to another. This lovely country has a strange reverence about it that cannot be adequately described. -- Here in this spot, during the late summer of ‘42, about 10 men began to fell trees and to lay a foundation for an over-night cabin. After about two months of steady hard work, enough logs had been cut and peeled for the construction of the cabin. These were to age for a season or two before building. The foundation was laid, and all was in readiness for the following year. The work was all done by hand, including the toting of the long Lodge-pole pine logs. Work was well supervised and quite efficiently done. The men took pride in their work. The attitude was one of the best of any projects that I have been on or had contact with. The beauty of the surrounding area, and the fact that we enjoyed “roughing” it, probably had a lot to do with keeping up the moral of the men.[3]

Note: if you view the source, you’ll see the newsletter is fully justified. After some online research, I can’t find any best practices about doing this on a manual typewriter. My best guess is that because manual typewriters use monospaced fonts, they simply counted out the characters that they wished to appear on each line (based on the maximum number of characters per line the typewriter/page allowed), and added spaces to achieve a consistent number of characters per line. Or… maybe they just eyeballed it, though because sometimes the extra spacing appears early in the line, the spacing seems pre-planned.

Use of Piute Cabin

Piute Cabin is still, officially at least, a Forest Service administrative site, and has only ever been used by Forest Service personnel.[4] Though there was a seasonal backcountry ranger station in Piute Cabin in the 1980s and 1990s, there’s now no longer enough funding or sufficient program emphasis to place someone there all summer long.[5] Until a few summers ago (as of 2019), the cabin had sporadic use and is now usually vacant.

That said, the Forest Service does have cabin rental programs in other National Forests, and the fees from such programs help pay for heritage preservation. While the Forest Service does archeological surveys ahead of projects in order to protect sites, many years there is no money left over to care for remote resources like Piute Cabin. The last year that the Forest did any significant maintenance at Piute Cabin was 2012.

Other resources

Photos

Piute Cabin
Error creating thumbnail: File missing
Forest Service ONLY at Piute Cabin
Various signs hung up below the eaves extending over the porch. Note the “TRAIL NO. XYZ”. I don’t know if that’s a Toiyabe National Forest thing, or an out of date thing or what, but I’d never seen trail signs using trail numbers before, and didn’t notice any on the hiking in.
Sundial or other rock design in front of Piute Cabin
Upper Piute Meadows from Piute Cabin
  1. Mono National Forest was entirely divided between Inyo National Forest and Toiyabe National Forest in 1945 by PLO 307 11-FR 250 (“ABOLISHING MONO NATIONAL FOREST AND TRANSFERRING ITS LANDS TO TOIYABE AND INYO NATIONAL FORESTS. By virtue of the authority vested in the President by the act of June 4, 1897 (30 Stat. 11, 36; 16 U.S.C. 473), and pursuant to Executive Order No. 9337 of April 24, 1943, and upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture, it is ordered as follows: The Mono National Forest, in California and Nevada, as defined by Executive Order No. 898 of July 2, 1908, and as subsequently modified, is hereby abolished, and the lands heretofore comprising said national forest are transferred to and consolidated with the Toiyabe and Inyo National Forests, effective July 1, 1945 [...]) (EXECUTIVE ORDERS, 43 CFR, 1946 Supp. 6346).
  2. Sage O’Piñion (or Sage O’Pinyon), August, 1944, Vol. 3, No. 1, pg. 2. Civilian Public Service, Camp 37, Coleville, California.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Email correspondence with Eric Dillingham, District Archeologist.
  5. Ibid