Gate Guarding

Gate Guarding

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Big Springs & Johnny Sack’s Cabin

We have been enjoying the nice temperatures here in Island Park, ID. Although, about mid afternoon it does seem to rain a bit and the wind picks up for a little while. The temps seem to run in the mid 70’s everyday until about 4:30 when the rain and wind hit….lol

Monday, Kevin and Arlene invited us to go to Big Springs and Johnny Sack’s Cabin. This is a really peaceful place to visit…here are a few photos and an excerpt from the history of the man and his cabin:

Born in 1884, Johnny came to the United States with his parents and four brothers and sisters from Germany when he was six years old. The family settled in South Bend, Indiana, and Johnny eventually made his way west to the newly established community of Ashton, Idaho.

Johnny Sak

Along with his brother Andy, Johnny arrived in Island Park by passenger train during a blizzard in June, 1909. The brothers’ ambitious goal was to raise cattle on Henrys Lake Flat. After years of working for various ranchers and serving time in the military, Johnny began making his living building furniture and cabins.

Standing just four foot, eleven inches tall, Johnny leased his cabin site in 1929 from the United States Forest Service , one of more than 30 cabin sites surrounding Big Springs, for $4.15 per year. Little did Johnny know when he first acquired the choice building site, his home would become a landmark one day discussed in the United States Congress. Using craftsmanship that reflected his early training with the Studebaker Wagon Corporation, Johnny created beds, chests, tables and chairs from hundreds of pieces of pine paneled with bark inlay. Even his lamp stands, magazine racks and ceiling fixtures were cleverly wrought from odd-shaped limbs, knots and pine cones.










Due to its unique location and picturesque setting, Johnny’s cabin and nearby water-wheel have long been one of the most photographed sites in Island Park. The cabin attracts thousands of visitors each summer interested in the log and stone structure as well as the building’s colorful creator.

One of Johnny’s trademarks is the split bark decoration used in the cabin’s furniture and interior. He took great pride in detail work. One ceiling lamp, still hanging in its original location, contains seventy-two individual handcrafted pieces of wood. A double bed was made of ninety-six wood pieces which Johnny nailed and glued together. Today many of the individually crafted pieces of wood furniture Johnny created for his home remain in their original location.


The cabin took approximately three years to complete, as Johnny worked primarily with hand tools — saws, draw knives, scrapers and planers. Johnny built a small structure and water-wheel at the edge of the springs to harness the power of the springs and create electricity.


After his death in 1957 the cabin became the property of Johnny’s two sisters. They later sold the cabin to Elberta and Rudy Kipp, who made it possible for the building to be opened as an interpretive center in 1980.


About Big Springs

Producing over 120 million gallons of water each day, Big Springs a Natural National Landmark, is one of the 40 largest natural springs in the world. The springs create the headwaters of the Henrys Fork of the Snake River which travels across Fremont County creating spectacular scenery at Upper and Lower Mesa Falls.




With a constant temperature of 52 degrees, the springs is home to rainbow trout, muskrats, ducks, moose and other critters. It is not unusual to see osprey and eagles dive for a meal of fresh fish from the springs.





We had a wonderful time with our friends exploring this great place. If you are ever in Island Park, ID, or even close, it is well worth your trip over to see the Springs and Johnny’s Cabin.

And here is a photo of the sunset we see almost every day from our RV…


Tuesday we just hung out around the RV and then went over to Kevin & Arlene’s to play cards with them, Keith & Donna, and Chuck & Kathy until the wind came up and cooled things down so much that it ran us all inside.

Today Mac has been cleaning the truck and I have been at work on the computer. We will all be gathering later today to have a cookout.

Tomorrow Mac has to have blood work done again to see what his levels are again.

We have a few more sightseeing trips planned before we leave here next Thursday so stay tuned to see what we do…..


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1 comment:

squawmama said...

Wow we missed that when we were there... next time I guess!
Great post & photos.
Have fun & Travel safe