by Luke Anderson
March 16, 2016
In the northern Wind River Range, there is a mountain that marks the boundary between three major American watersheds. Three Waters Mountain peaks at 11,685 feet: to the west, it feeds the watershed for the Columbia River; to the south, the Colorado; and to the east, the Missouri River.
Near the base of the mountain lies Simpson Lake, a picturesque glacial lake left over after the last ice caps melted several thousand years ago. Three cabins dot its shore. Built in 1926, these cabins make up what is known as Simpson Lake Lodge and can only be reached by horseback or foot. There is a cook/dining cabin as well as two guest cabins. Partly due to their extremely remote location, the cabins were built with relatively simple construction methods. Tools used included whip saws and broad axes. The most complex and developed tool used to build the cabins was simply the skilled craftsmanship of the workers themselves.
90 years after their original construction, the cabins still stand, although time and weather have deteriorated their overall condition considerably. Nevertheless, Shoshone National Forest is looking into a possible reuse project involving recreational rental of the cabins. The cabins are historically significant due to their exceptional workmanship, and their extremely remote location makes the workmanship even more impressive. They are significant also because of their connection to "tie-hacking" in Wyoming, in which railroad ties were harvested from trees and floated downriver to railroad construction sites. The Simpson Lake Cabins were constructed in the area and time when tie-hacking was very prominent in the state. Furthermore, the cabins contribute to the continually emerging story of dude ranching traditions in the early 20th century in Wyoming. The cabins were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.
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