USFS Summer Home Tract Since 1957-An Association Since 1961

LOT  41  McDowall

Lot 41 History

McDowall Family Cabin.......Bob McDowall's words on the history of Lot 41 and the construction of the McDowall Cabin at Gerle Creek, with assistance by his grandson Danny Ludwig who prepared the pictures.  Questions and comments can be address to Danny at .

In December 1961, Bob and Betty McDowall moved into their just completed new home. No landscape, no fences.  Timed with this move in, came a letter from Pacific Ranger Station.  Bob had filed an application for a lot in the Gerle Creek Summer Home Tract but had almost forgotten about it,  In fact, when Bob filed the application,  he really didn't know anything about the area, other than it was not too far from Desolation Valley where the McDowall brothers had spent quality time as teenagers living on salt pork, beans and trout.

USFS offered Lot 41 if Bob  and Betty McDowall were interested.  They would send a permit for signature and payment of the Fifty Dollar use fee.  However, since Bob had just moved into a new home there was a big problem.  The Use Permit stated that construction must commence within six months of the permit date.  Bob asked his brothers, Jim and Dick McDowall, if they would like to joint venture a family cabin.  They agreed and the project was  set in motion.

The Army Surplus Store had some nice officer tents and some double-decker bunks which the family purchased for  housing during the construction period.  The tent was carefully measured, followed by precutting  a wood framework, flooring, etc..   The tent and wood framework were then packaged  up ready for transfer to Gerle Creek as shelter for attacking the cabin project.

In May 1962,  the Forest Service said they were sure a trip could be made  into Gerle Creek.  So off in convoy the McDowall family  went and all went well until the old dirt road met up with Angel Creek crossing.  It was tough but we made it through to Gerle Creek.  The pictures that follow,  speak a thousand words.

The cabin was completely built and closed in by the end of deer season 1962.  The McDowall Brothers managed to build the cabin without taking one day off work except for the day they hauled the sliding glass door and windows that had to be protected from being bounced around.  One of the three McDowall brothers would man the Insurance Office while the other two left with a loaded truck before sunup.  Usually, it was Dick at the office as he was the father of brand new twin daughters in addition to his two little sons.

The construction of the 20 x 24 porch deck was a project unto itself.  The completed porch required placing  many piers and much bracing to make sure it would be able to carry the Winter snow loads.  It took the entire Summer of 1963 to complete the porch but a lot of that had to do with early departures to the swimming hole.

Picture #1 = Displays our nearly completed cabin with the exception of enclosing the underside. September1963.

Our Arrival At Gerle Creek - May 1962 Picture #2 - Our faithful 1951 3 speed Ford truck affectionately known as the Tasmanian Red Devil.  Loaded to the hilt it brought us to the tract to show us what existed with Lot 41. It was a strong truck but without compound gear there were certain hills on the old stagecoach road that when loaded you were down to about 10 mph when you reached the top regardless of your running start.


Picture 3 - The nearly completed new one lance concrete bridge built above the old creek fording site for access to the tract. On the South side of the bridge two stately matched sugar pines stood guard. Several years later they were felled by the Forest Service so a second lane could be constructed .


Picture 4 - As well documented on Mike Brattland’s Gerle Creek history pages, the old USFS building was there to greet us. If I recall correctly, we opened up a watermelon on the porch that day. The water tank also was standing to take East of the building.


Picture 5 - First construction effort upon arrival was to assemble the precut tent platform. This is Bob McDowall with hammer in hand. With the double bunks it slept four and was really a nice setup and away from the dirt. When we were through with it, the tent and platform were taken apart and donated to the West Dillon family as they started on their cabin project.


Picture #6 - Showing some of the tree growth on the lot.  There was much more that does not show including dead trees. Tent platform is complete except for pulling the tent cover over it.


Picture 7 - Shows the front of lot 41.   Looking at the lot, we realized the truth of why 3 previous permit holders had cancelled out. There was no way to get materials on the lot except stick by stick. This was the killer when coupled with the large dead trees. To the right of the picture is a big Jeffrey pine. It died the year after we took the lot . USFS said it was our baby.


Construction pictures from Summer of 1962


Construction pictures from Summer of 1962


Construction pictures from Summer of 1962


Construction pictures from Summer of 1962