The log cabin is widely believed to be the typical American frontier house. Its origins are not well known. The log cabin is a structure that depends on the ready availability of trees, something that did not characterize the homelands of the early Spanish and English colonists. The native peoples never developed log cabins because they did not have steel axes that made cutting down trees easier.
Log cabins seem to have been common in heavily forested Scandinavia. So how did the log cabin get to what later became the United States? The answer is New Sweden. In the middle 1600s the Swedes had a brief colonial presence in what is now Delaware and New Jersey.
Sweden then ruled what is now Finland, where log cabins were very common. Not many people settled in New Sweden, but of those who did, many were from Finland, who brought the log cabin with them.
The log cabin spread into Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvanians invited the Scotch Irish to come to the colony and settle on the frontier, and large numbers of Scots Irish did just that. They adopted the log cabin as a fast way to build a temporary home as they developed farms.
Many Scotch Irish, together with a sizable mix of Germans, migrated down the Great Valley in Virginia and settled large areas of Appalachia. The log cabin is usually associated with the Appalachian frontier, but it was a Scotch Irish and German adaptation of a tradition from the Finnish frontier of Sweden. That makes it an all-American tradition.
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