By Luke Anderson
October 14, 2015
The Abraham Archibald Anderson Lodge sits in the Washakie Wilderness within the Shoshone National Forest. Nestled deep in the Absaroka Mountains at a crisp 9,080 feet, the Anderson Lodge honors the spirit of the wilderness. It is built on the downslope of a hillside overlooking a valley filled with trees. It is a striking two-story cabin with an even more impressive two-story porch. The lodge was built in 1890 under the direction of Abraham Archibald Anderson. It has a strong connection with the history of national forests in Wyoming.
Abraham Archibald Anderson was an early conservationist in Wyoming. He was originally from New Jersey, born to a wealthy family. He studied art in Paris, and while he was back in the United States one summer he traveled to the Greybull River in Wyoming. The landscape was so awe-inspiring that Anderson established a residence in the area. This residence is one of three that Abraham kept. He maintained homes in New York, Paris, and Wyoming, aligning the wilderness of the Cowboy State as equally captivating as two of the greatest, most iconic cities in the entire world. In 1890, Anderson had the Lodge constructed as an artist’s studio space.
From his artist’s retreat in the Wyoming wilderness, Anderson saw firsthand how the unmanaged forests were being negatively affected by activities such as timbering and grazing. A concerned Anderson discussed with President Teddy Roosevelt the issues he was witnessing. The Yellowstone Forest Reserve boundaries were extended to encompass the area in which Anderson’s cabin sits. Anderson was appointed superintendent of the area and began managing the forest he loved so much. He supervised the area until it was transferred to the Department of Agriculture.
The Anderson Lodge’s unique architecture is not the only significant feature of the building. It was one of three residences Anderson kept, with the other two being in the magnificent cities of Paris and New York. The forests of northwestern Wyoming held as deep a place in Abraham Anderson’s heart as the City of Light and the Big Apple. Furthermore, Anderson’s own status as one of the key actors in the development of national forests as we know them today makes the lodge significant, particularly because it still sits within the Shoshone National Forest. His use of the lodge as an artist’s forest retreat emphasizes the continued importance of wilderness as an essential element of the modern mind. The lodge represents a certain instance when art, architecture, and nature collide.
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This project was funded in part by a Historic Architecture Assistance Fund grant, and completed by CTA Architects and Engineers. The program is offered by the Alliance for Historic Wyoming in partnership with Wyoming Main Street and the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office, and is made possible by a grant from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund.