If you ask me to tell you about the Riverview Cabin's history, I'm afraid there would be holes in my story. During much of it's construction I think you'd find me hiding somewhere (avoiding work) reading comic books or National Geographic back issues (many of which still grace the shelves of the cabin). If you did catch me hiding, I would be sure to complain about "the land" and give you a number of good reasons why my parents were torturing me on a weekend by making me sit around while they worked on it's construction. If you think it brings satisfaction to my parents to know that it's my idea of paradise now, you'd be absolutely right.
The land that the Riverview Cabin sits on was purchased by my parents in 1969. At that time I was 7 years old; my siblings were 5 and 3. My father was the resident minister in Yellowstone National Park and we lived in Mammoth Hot Springs, 8 miles to the south. Since my memories get a little fuzzy here (see above), I've asked my dad to tell the early story of the cabin's construction.
Merv Olson: We purchased the land in 1969 from Tony and Agnes Stermitz. It was Tony’s winter horse pasture and was virgin land covered with large sagebrush – some were nearly 10 feet tall! The first project was to eliminate the sagebrush by pulling it out with a pickup and a chain and burning it. The kids would ride in the back of the pickup until the sagebrush took over all the room. We left one large sagebrush on the hillside behind the Riverview Cabin to remind us of those days.
We decided that a well was needed so we worked on a joint well with Ted and Holly Scott, our neighbors then and now, located on the property line. We dug that well by hand and cribbed it with some lodgepole logs and sheets of plywood as we got deeper. It was below the top of the water table so we had a pulley with a five-gallon bucket to lift the muck out. We had a cave-in that scared us so we gave up on hole #1 and decided to each have our own well. Our well was dug with a backhoe and then dug to 28 feet by hand. [It is now used for irrigating our landscape and garden and for water for the bathhouse.] This well served us until 1999 when Van Dyken drilled out current well to about 70 feet which now serves all the other buildings on the property.
After the well we put in a septic system with my brother, Dale’s help. He lived with us during the summer during his teen years. First we rented a trailer spot. After we saved a little income from that we started building a cbain in the summer of 1972 for our vacation cabin. Warren Wagner, a local contractor, dug into the hillside for the foundation. I dug a trench, mixed the concrete and poured the footings. Mr. Lundgren from Livingston was hired to build the foundation walls with concrete block and I mixed the concrete mortar. We were a great team.
The subfloor was laid and the trusses were assembled on the subfloor and then laid on the hillside while we framed the walls. Fred Bent and Leon Shaul, family friends, helped raise the trusses. The first day we tried to do this we put one truss up but realized that the wind was too dangerous so we completed the job another day. There was no deck in front so it was a long way down to the ground from the roof peak!
The cabin was enclosed just before we left Yellowstone and moved to Malta, Montana. [Where my dad accepted a pastoral call to a Lutheran church.] The joke was that every intern had to work on the cabin the day after Easter before the annual pastoral conference at Chico Hot Springs. The rafters were salvaged from the flat roof of the Gardiner Community Church when an addition was made to the church annex in 1974.
The deck was added in the summer of 1978. The 2x12s came from the railroad tressel tht was dismantled just north of the Gardiner school. We hauled them in the back of the pickup and nearly blew the tires they were so heavy!
We enjoyed using the cabin for vacations but when the gold mine in Jardine opened there was a demand for housing and Charissa was entering college, so we rented the cabin from then to about 2000.
Some remodeling projects included new windows in the 80s and a new bathroom in 2002. The cost of the windows was bout 2/3 of the cost of the building of the original cabin. A new room was installed (metal) after the fires of 1988 by Tim and Charissa’s brother David. David frightened us all by falling from the room during that project but, thankfully, he was not seriously hurt. Tim and Charissa have made many changes as well since they moved here in 2009.
My parents, Merv and Joyce, shared this cabin with many, many people before it became a part of their business. It hosted youth groups, hunters, friends of friends of friends, and our family on holiday. Many hands have worked on it's walls; Tim and mine among them. It's on going project.
This year we celebrate its 38th year of keeping people warm and dry while they gaze at the amazing Yellowstone National Park view. All thanks to the foresight and imagination of my parents. (No thanks to me....but ask me anything about those National Geographics!) We consider ourselves very lucky to be a part of that legacy.