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James Taylor Cabins

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c. 1924. Right bank of Yukon River opposite mouth of Fourth of July Creek

James Taylor was a miner turned trapper who built himself an intricate set of buildings on the north side of the Yukon River, probably in about 1924. In 1908, he was prospecting on Fourth of July Creek, on the south side of the Yukon. In 1919 he sold his claims to a larger outfit, one that was able to develop the necessary hydraulic operation. Five years later he moved across the river and turned to trapping.

Taylor first constructed a 12-foot-by-13-foot one-story log cabin. The round logs are hewn on the interior and fastened into corner posts. The roof of sod on poles was replaced in 1984. After about five years, Taylor built another cabin to live in, and the old one became the shop. That main cabin, which was destroyed by fire in 1968, was remembered for its ingenious conveniences, such as a dumbwaiter that serviced the root cellar and was operated by a crank in the kitchen; a wood box that was filled by using a chute and a trapdoor; and papier-mâché-like chinking.

Other buildings at the site are similarly ingenious. The dog barn, a low cabin with saddle-notched log walls, has six stalls with vertical-pole walls. Each stall has its own door, operable by an outside lever. Taylor also built individual doghouses out of logs and extensive vertical-pole corrals that led down to a stream.

Taylor left Alaska in 1933 and died shortly thereafter. He left his place to Ed Biederman.

Writing Credits

Alison K. Hoagland


What's Nearby


Alison K. Hoagland, "James Taylor Cabins", [Seward, Alaska], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Alaska, Alison K. Hoagland. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 245-245.

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