Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jack London's Cabin

Located in Jack London Square, at the foot of Webster St.

The cabin in front of Heinhold's First and Last Chance Saloon was once lived in by Jack London during his career in the Klondike. Jack London staked his claim in the Klondike on October 6th, 1897, and built this cabin on the banks of Henderson Creek, using it as his headquarters while he was working the claim. In the late-1960s the cabin was re-discovered and authenticated based on handwriting samples and a carving of Jack London's name above one of the bunk beds. The Port of Oakland, and a group of local historians, suggested that a request be made to the Canadian government to move the cabin to Oakland and preserve it as a historical site. Since the cabin was of historical interest to both the Port of Oakland and the Canadian government, a compromise was made to create two identical preservation pieces, each using half of the lumber from the original cabin. While this seems like an odd and backwards way to preserve an historical building, this was the course of action that was taken and half the materials were sent to Jack London Square, while the other half was sent to Dawson City in the Yukon Territory.

This is a neat little cabin with some interesting history and it's fitting that it takes it's place in the Port of Oakland with all of the other Jack London memorabilia. I question the decision to literally split the cabin in two and ship it across the continent, but I suppose that desperate times must make for desperate measures when the cabin of your shopping district's namesake is up for grabs. I also wish that passers-by wouldn't throw trash through the grate on the front window, but what are you going to do.

Getting There By Bike...
The cabin is located towards the southern end of Jack London Square proper, right next to Heinhold's First and Last Chance Saloon. If you're coming from downtown Oakland, be aware that the streets that pass under the highway, Broadway in particular, are full of fast-moving cars and they have no discernible bike lanes. If you were feeling ambitious the cabin could be a stop on a more involved tour of the many historical sites that line the Oakland waterfront. Heinhold's, the USS Potomac, the US Coast Guard lightship Relief, and the Jack London history walk are all a stone's throw away. The cabin can also be viewed very favorably, beverage in hand, from the patio at Heinhold's on a summer evening.
These sites are also close to downtown Oakland and there are some more great sites within spitting distance. The Tribune Tower, Lake Merritt, Preservation Park, and the Old Oakland District are all an easy ride from Jack London Square.

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