EXHIBITS Carving out a curiosity: Redwood house rolls in
The hollowed-out log once provided a home for Jamie Allen's grandfather.
By MARALINE KUBIK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CANFIELD -- Living in a log isn't just for chipmunks.
A California logger thought a giant redwood tree would be the perfect domain for a man who earned his living working in the forest. Today, his granddaughter tours the country exhibiting his home at fairs from coast to coast.
"My grandfather was a logger and he couldn't afford to buy a house during the Depression, so he thought he'd make his own," explained Jamie Allen, who inherited the redwood log house from her father in 1985.
Inside: Her grandfather, Jim Allen, spent a year and a half hollowing out the log, which is 33 feet long, 8 feet wide and 9 feet 4 inches high, and which was cut from a 1,900-year-old tree. He and a friend carved away 11,000 board feet of lumber, then sanded, polished and varnished the inside.
Built-in cabinets and furniture -- a single bed, dresser, sofa, lamp table, kitchen counter and dining table and seats -- are also made of redwood.
Allen's grandfather lived in the log house, which has no indoor plumbing, for seven years. Then, she said, he started visiting schools along the West Coast, teaching children about the giant redwood forests.
Her father eventually inherited the house, "and he took it to fairs all across the country," Allen said. When she was a little girl, she'd travel with him. When she inherited the family heirloom, she took over, exhibiting the log house at fairs and festivals eight months a year.
Curious drivers: "The funniest thing is when you're going down the highway and people pull up alongside and say, 'It's a girl driving,' " she said.
Allen is certified to drive big rigs and transports the log house with a tractor-trailer.
"Then they speed past and pull over to take pictures."
In logging communities, she continued, people hold up signs that read, "Pull over. We want to see." But, Allen said, "If I pulled over every time somebody held up a sign I'd never get to where I was going." She and her husband, Dale, travel between 5,000 and 8,000 miles with the log house every year.
Donations are collected from visitors to support transportation and maintenance costs for the log house, Allen said; she earns her living selling fudge. Allen inherited the fudge business from her mother.
Allen's fudge is not available at the Canfield Fair this year, but she said she'd like to sell it next year if the log house returns.
Allen and her company, Alco Associates, are based in Tarpon Springs, Fla.