Oh outhouse, where are thou?

Timeless but still usable structure “repurposed” for use at remote mountain cabin

| November 2020

 The cabin in need of an outhouse seen during winter. Snow was deep enough that most of the windows were covered.

My recent article about an old-fashioned cabin raising in the mountains (see Farm Collector, June 2020) described the process of creating a place to live far from civilization. Only one thing was left out. What about a bathroom? Modern folk just naturally expect some type of bathroom will be available if any time is spent away from the conveniences of home. That is where this article comes in.

Along, arduous “house raising” construction effort culminated in a house far from civilization that provided accommodations allowing one to live, cook, eat, sleep and keep warm. But the builder was so busy that it was late fall before it dawned on him that an outhouse was badly needed before snow flew. There wasn’t time to construct one from scratch.

Only a short distance from a rural road, the Jeep was backed up to the long-abandoned outhouse. The chimney was an elaborate way of venting fumes.

Since I am a native of our isolated rural area and know a lot about it, the builder asked me to find an outhouse at some abandoned home site that could be moved to the cabin. His idea was that someone like me, who was friends with several local farmers, ought to be able to find a usable outhouse without too much trouble. Whatever money needed to buy such a small building was available.  

It’s a seller’s market

It doesn’t take too much imagination to understand the difficulty of what was being asked. How does a person ask for an outhouse? Many local farmers farmed fields that were, in the past, parts of smaller farms. When the original residents lived there, they surely had an outhouse. When they moved away, the old farm buildings often deteriorated and fell down – but if anything survived, it would be an outhouse.


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