Cabin for Sale

By Beacon Staff

Only in Sun Valley, Idaho, can a 750-square-foot early 1950s log cabin go on the market for $949,000.

Here is the history of that log cabin.

My job at Sun Valley in the winter of 1948/49 was to teach beginning skiing to people who had come there on a “Learn to Ski” week vacation for $87.95. This price included room and board, a one-week ski lift ticket and six days of ski lessons. I taught people from all over the country how to put their skis on for the first time.

The end of my dream job as a ski instructor was coming to an end for the season. I had gotten very used to having a place to live and three meals a day. Rather than pack up and spend the summer surfing, I got a good night job washing dishes in the Challenger Inn.

After washing dishes during the day, I was getting material ready to build my dream log cabin on my $300 vacant lot in nearby Ketchum.

Now shift your attention to August, 2013, when Ron and Kendall Johnson of Ketchum, sent me a flyer complete with photographs of a very attractive log cabin.

Here is what the real estate ad said:
“This is a very special one-of-a-kind early 1950 log cabin. The cabin was completely refurbished down to the studs in 2006 and this wonderful property is a showpiece. Tourist zoned so a business is possible on over 200 feet of Trail Creek footage. Underground parking and storage area in The Crossings (just across the creek). Owner occupied. The log cabin has 1 bathroom, 1 bedroom.”

When I read the fine print in the ad it said that the cabin was built by ski filmmaker Warren Miller. So I called the real estate agent, Lane Monroe, to find out more details. I’ve known Lane for many years and he told me that, yes, it is the log cabin I started building in April 1948 while I was washing dishes in the Challenger Inn and earning $125 a month.

Digging further into the fine print of the real estate ad, the house still contains the 750 square feet I’d planned so the owner has spent a lot of money rebuilding my amateur dream log cabin, but apparently kept the floor plan along with the window locations.

When I designed the log cabin I was a 24-year-old bachelor ski instructor with no responsibilities except for food and gas for my car and wax for my surfboard. The asking price for this 750-square-foot cabin is only $949,000. When I sold the cabin for $900, I made a couple of hundred dollars, or 20 percent of what I had put into it.

With no real responsibilities, as I said, I had decided I wanted be surfing, rather than hanging around washing dishes. I never looked back and the money I made helped me buy enough 16mm color film to make my first surfing movie at San Onofre. A lot of the shots in that film were made with my waterproof camera box that I made in my garage in Ketchum before I left in July.

It is nice to stumble onto something that you created 60-plus years ago that still has value and to know that someone who cares has preserved your dream alongside a gurgling creek.

At least I assume that stream still gurgles at the entrance to Ketchum above the roar of the cars commuting twice a day to Hailey and beyond.

If you followed my historical narrative of a log cabin wait until you read about the rest of my nutty life in my memoirs when I finally get it finished. Eighty-eight, almost 89 years, are an awful lot of years to recount.

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