The House on Piomingo Point
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Our new Point House is my Shrangri La: a dream come true. When Alice and I purchased
the Woodspoint land 42 years ago, we knew of its history related to her Dow family. We did
not know it had a history of its own: of the last Indian battle in Kentucky , when canoes
slipped across the Ohio and landed at the foot of Froman Hollow. They came up the hollow
settlers in the vicinity. When the great Indian leader, Tecumseh gathered the Indian Nations, he made plans for a confederation organizational meeting to take place at the mouth of Otter Creek. After the War of 1812, land speculators created a paper town named Ohio Piomingo(in honor of the chief of the Mingo Indian tribe)k on this site, to be developed as a safe capitol of our nation. The town, which was never developed, is shown on early maps.
When the Dow family came from Perth, Scotland, and settled on the land, several log cabins were built. Bronze markers now mark the site of two of the cabins. Land was cleared and crops were raised. Portions of old public roads can still be seen, leading from Rock Haven to Little York, on Doe Run Creek. Much of the land remained a forest, especially the Froman Hollow and Dow Hollow areas. The land remained as small family farms during the 1800s and early 1900 hundreds. The L
& N Railroad today has a sixty-foot right of way on Woodspoint land between the base of the cliffs and the river. This railroad was built as the LH&StL or Louisville, Henderson and St. Louis Railroad also called the Texas Line. Construction was started on the railroad on November 10, 1886, at Rock Haven, working in both directions. The Railroad Spring on the cliff below the point house was the first source of water for the steam engines.
This point of land has always held a fascination for us, and we considered building there many years ago. However, the location was such that it never seemed practical. For several years we have discussed building a retreat house there. We had seen Stacked Log Houses in Mother Earth Magazines. Bill had obtained plans from friends and ordered a book and video on such houses. As a family group we discussed such a building at our Woodspoint Board meetings, and the decision was made to build on the point. In January, Bill came home and he and Lance cut the cedar logs needed for the building and hauled them to the site. The logs dried through the summer. Lance, with various family members, stripped the logs, cut them into sixteen- inch lengths and stacked them for drying.
In June , 40 large cedar trees were cut into 10 and 12 -foot logs, and hauled to Summer Shade, south of Glasgow, for sawing into boards, plus 6x6, 4x6, 2x6, and 4x4 timbers for the framing and woodwork needed. They were brought back to Woodspoint and stacked on the site for drying.
Our master -carpenter friend, Harry McCrobie, had studied the plans with us and agreed to do the design work and construct the building. We agreed on an octagonal building , 27 feet in diameter, with each of 8 sides 10 -feet long with about 700 square feet in the house. The roof is self-supporting. The site, on a heavily-wooded area, is rather steep. No clearing was done and only one small tree was cut. We were able to get concrete trucks to the site and a heavy footing was poured. Textured concrete blocks were used to build up the lower side about 9 feet high. Much steel reinforcing was used. It took 130 tons of a sand and concrete rubble mix to fill the inside for the floor and reinforce the outside. After the fill settled, a six- inch, steel- reinforced floor was poured. We used double- glazed sturdy Pella windows, 7 feet by 3 ½ feet.. Before building the walls the window frames were put in and braced. Each frame was made of 2 6x6 plus 1 4x6 on both sides, plus top and bottom, to accommodate the 16- inch walls. Wall construction was the most time consuming part. We were able to recruit family and friends to help in mixing mortar and laying walls. The mortar was a special mix of 3 parts sand, 1 part Portland cement, 1 part slaked lime and 1 part wet sawdust. Six tons of sand was used in the mortar.
The logs were laid with 5 inches of mortar, inside and out, with the 6-inch cavity between filled with 5 parts dry sawdust and 1 part slaked lime as insulation and a moisture barrier. Getting Harrys self- supporting roof in place was a challenge which was met by a large crew of volunteers. The roofing is textured shingle with a forty year life guarantee and and eighty mph wind resistance. The roofing alone weighed over one and a half tons. This type of house should last several centuries.
Off of the NW side a ten by twelve- foot screened porch was installed. It is entered through a sliding glass door. In the center of the room is a Fisher iron stove, which was given to us by Charles and Carla Allen. An eight- inch pipe goes up through the center of the roof. There are shelves in the kitchen and sleeping area and a built- in desk facing the river. Other additions include built- in coat hangers and lamp stands.
During the construction, visitors included several curious deer, a red fox and two kits, wild turkeys, a large owl and a bald
eagle. In the space between the house and the river cliff is a well- used deer and animal trail. To the left is a small hollow with a wooded area of large trees on the far slope. On this slope the deer congregate at night for their resting place. On the right side are cliffs and steep slopes of Froman Hollow. The river cliffs in front are some two hundred fifty feet high.
Late in the day the mournful sound of doves, and the clamor of frogs and crickets, begin. When Alice and I spend the night there we go sleep to the night sounds of the screech owls and hoot owls. About 4 in the morning the coyotes , across the river in Indiana start their morning chorus, and the deer their morning coughing and sounds of young bucks rattling their antlers in play with each other. The songs of woodland birds and the raucous cry of the pileated woodpeckers are heard. It is a most satisfying and inspiring place to be. The kettle on the stove always has hot water for a cup of tea at any time.