Poor Coyote’s Cabin

The provenance of the log structure known as Poor Coyote’s Cabin is unclear. It is generally believed to have been built some time after 1880. The original builder remains anonymous, but a Nez Perce Indian named Poor Coyote was known to have occupied the cabin from 1895 until his death in 1915.

It is generally believed that the cabin was originally built in or near Coyote Gulch, a locale approximately 2 miles west of Spalding and that in 1900 it was still at Coyote Gulch. However an alternative explanation of the cabin’s origin exists. One source believes it was built and inhabited by an Anglo trapper prior to Poor Coyote (or another Nez Perce), and that it was originally located closer to the Clearwater River and its present day site. In either case, it was moved to a location in Spalding, near the agency log building, in 1936. This was accomplished by Joe Evans who, with his wife Pauline, operated a museum at Spalding and wanted the cabin for a museum exhibit.

The cabin was filled with Indian artifacts and interpreted as the “Sundown Jackson” or “Jackson Sundown” cabin. Jackson Sundown was a Nez Perce who achieved fame as a world champion rodeo rider in the early 20th century. No evidence, however, exists linking Sundown Jackson to this structure and the Evans are known to have made false statements regarding the cabin’s history and other relics in their possession. The cabin remained an exhibit until 1965.

Poor Coyote’s Cabin was moved a second time in the mid-1970’s sometime after the Clearwater River flooded. The site selected for this final relocation was under a now abandoned highway (old U.S. 95) overpass, a short distance to the west. Prior to dismantling the structure for the first move, someone numbered each log, probably to facilitate the reassembling of the cabin. The numbers, visible on the logs today, suggest the cabin was reassembled incorrectly. Since the second move, the cabin has been vacant and unused.

In this incongruous location, Poor Coyote’s Cabin has been relatively well protected, despite its deteriorated condition. Only a small percentage of the cabin’s remaining fabric appears to be compatible with its late 19th century origins; sill logs, roof covering, window sash, chinking, interior surface materials, and probably the purlins all appear to be later additions, most likely dating from the Evans era.

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