Keep Oakland Beautiful Point Of Interest: Jack London’s Cabin.

Keep Oakland Beautiful Points of Interest remind us of how interesting and beautiful Oakland is and why we should care about protecting it. Please click on the photos to enlarge and clarify them.

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Historical photo from http://www.jacklondons.net/henderson-creek-cabin.html

One of the stranger sights you’ll see in Oakland is a small, century-old, log cabin from Yukon Territory in Northwestern Canada, surrounded by modern buildings and palm trees! This is the cabin of author Jack London — the story of how it came to reside in Oakland is as odd as the sight of it is.

Like 100,000 other speculators, Jack London traveled to the wilds of Yukon Territory to prospect for gold during the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1890s. While there, London lived in a friend’s cabin, seeking fortune by day and writing in his spare time.

Seventy years after London departed from the far north, an expedition led by Jack London biographer Russ Kingman, traveled to the Yukon by bush plane, dog sled, and on foot to authenticate the wilderness cabin where London had camped, so it could be removed and preserved on a site in Jack London Square.

Since the cabin was located on Canadian soil and both the US and Canadian governments had a historical interest in the wooden structure, a compromise was reached in which the cabin was thoroughly photographed, then carefully dismantled, with each party receiving half of the original timber. Two replicas were thus created from these logs, one in Oakland, the other in Dawson City, Yukon Territory. In each instance, the original timber was carefully augmented with additional wood to closely match the original cabin.

Today, the cabin in Oakland can be seen in Jack London Square, outside of Heinhold’s First and Last Chance (48 Webster Street), where it has resided now for almost fifty years! Heinhold’s First and Last Chance, by the way, was opened in 1883, built from the timber of an old whaling ship — but, that’s a story for another day.

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The tiny one-room wooden cabin has tufts of grass growing on the roof and a bronze statue of White Fang, a wild wolf-dog from the Jack London-penned story of the same name, prowling nearby. If you face the front of the cabin, you can see rows of palm trees in the background. Facing the back of the cabin, you’ll view sailboats and powerboats gently rocking in the marina, just beyond the cabin’s front door. Since Jack London’s adventures took place in the far north, the tropics, and in San Francisco Bay, this weird setting seems somehow apropos.

If you’re in the neighborhood, take a moment to see this piece of history for yourself. You’ll find this primitive cabin to be interesting, if oddly out of place. It’s another example of the many things that make Oakland unique and beautiful.

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Keeping Oakland Beautiful is everybody’s business.

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