One of the finest examples of rustic wood craftsmanship has to be the Johnny Sack cabin and its furnishings. Johnny started his wood working career in South Bend, Indiana, where he worked with for the Studebaker Wagon Corporation.
In 1909, he and his brother moved to the new community of Ashton, Idaho, with the ambition of raising cattle. Johnny soon learned there was a better living to be had building furniture and cabins. In 1929, he leased a small tract of land from the U.S. Forest Service for $4.15 per year, and began building a cabin for himself.
Today, that cabin is on the National Register of Historic Places. A waterwheel was built to provide electrical power, and a sturdy outhouse stands off to the side.
It is the interior and furnishings that really show off his abilities. Johnny had a unique trademark of split bark decorations. The inside walls and all the furnishings are paneled with the technique. Many of the furnishings he built still stand in their original positions.
This split bark technique, which we had never seen before, is evident on the inside walls
and on the kitchen cabinets.
The desk is a work of art
as is the ceiling lamp with its 72 individual handcrafted pieces of wood
and the bed upstairs, made of 96 pieces.
Curtains hang on bough rods, accenting the rustic look.
Never married (“a woman would just put rugs on my varnished floors and draperies over my picture windows) Johnny lived a solitary life as Big Springs’ lone winter resident. Once a week he’d use his snowshoes or cross country skis to travel across the miles to retrieve his mail. He died in 1957, and eventually, in 1980, the cabin was preserved as an interpretive center, manned daily through the summer by volunteers.
Johnny’s view was as picturesque as his home. The house looks out over the Big Springs, a Natural National Landmark, and one of the 40 largest natural springs in the world.
The springs create the headwaters of the Henrys Fork of the Snake River. With a constant temperature of 52, the springs is home to quite a variety of wildlife. We watched trout swim under the bridge,
and enjoyed a walk along the bank.
Flat Rock NFS Campground to Big Springs --- 5+ miles