Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Jerry Wells Cabin

Going east on Hwy 34, do many of you recognize the black and white cabin that sits between Nick Cattell's apartments and the Frontier Trading post?

I have only been in Lucas County for eleven years and have been trying for quite some time to find out more about this cabin that used to sit buried behind trees and thick brush until recently when Nick started clearing the land surrounding this very interesting building.

There is no road going into the property so it makes it hard to get very close to the cabin.  Nick is trying to get that problem taken care of.  In fact he has big plans for the area surrounding this cabin.  More on that in the near future.

Jerry Wells did not build the cabin.  It was built in the 1940's by someone else and then Jerry purchased it sometime in the 1950's and had the start of Lake Vista Restaurant in it just long enough to build the new Lake Vista log sided building next door.  Maybe you ate there years ago.  Bonnie Stone remembered eating their steak dinners. 

This picture to the left shows the cabin in 1958.  You may notice that in this picture Hwy 34 is even with the restaurant and the cabin.  These pictures were taken before the road was lowered.  In 1974 the Poush's bought the restaurant and added a lounge.  
The pictures below show the Lake Vista Restaurant in 1958 to the left.  The building to the right is now part of Nick's apartments attached to the old restaurant.  The siding is different and it is attached to the other apartments, so it is hard to recognize.

In 1959, Jerry Wells built the Lake Vista Motel.  (Pictured below) He borrowed $1,200 from George Gartin at First State Bank in Chariton.  The Motel was built with reclaimed lumber from the Mallory Castle.  You could rent a room for $2 a night in 1959 and 1960.  When the roads got so muddy they were impassable, Jerry would go into town and bring people out to the restaurant and the motel in the trailer he pulled behind his tractor.  Road construction was being done on Hwy 34 and sometimes vehicles could not get through.  This was the time when crews were lowering the Highway in that area.

The Lake Vista Motel building is still there on Hwy 34, but it looks quite different than the above picture. If you look to the west from Nick's apartments you will see the building, but it is now painted gray.  One family purchased the building and it is their home

This old barn (shown below) sits near the cabin and is still in fairly good condition.  Underneath the barn is a basement where they used to milk cows.

While Nick was cleaning out the cabin and the barn, (pictured below), he found lots of interesting objects.  There were lots of wooden hand carved decoys, old coins, old newspapers, handwritten journals that had been written back in the 1890's, trunks full of clothes and even an old wedding dress.
Nick is still in the process of cleaning up the old building, but someday soon maybe he will allow people to come in and take a look at it.  Next time you are driving east on Hwy 34, just after you pass Lake Ellis and before you get to the Frontier Trading Post, take a look to your left and see if you can spot the cabin up on the hill.

The three pictures above were after Nick had cleaned all the brush away.  These pictures were taken in July of 2012
Have you wondered what has happened to the Jerry Wells Cabin now? On July 6, 2013 the cabin collapsed and here are some of the pictures showing the remains.

No one was injured, but now only the front and a couple of east-side walls are standing.

Nick now is trying to figure out how to turn what remains into a shelter house for the Country Cabins development

Many buildings in Lucas County have disappeared this past year and it is sad to see another one do the same.

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