History of the Donley Cabin
The year was 1861. Jack Donley was trying to evade serving in the Confederate Army, so he constructed a small cabin deep in the mountains of southeast Tennessee. Like many Southern mountaineers during the 19th century, he squatted on property that suited him, built a dwelling and grew corn and other crops.
Sometime after the War, Donley moved to Montana where he met and married an Indian woman. He later moved back to the upper Tellico River area with his bride. Donley died in the 1940s, asking in his final days to “be carried back across the river” to his old homestead. He is buried in the Coppinger Cemetery in Tellico Plains.
In 1916, 50,000 acres in the North Bald and Tellico River drainages were purchased by the Babcock Lumber Company and aggressively logged for several years. Seven years later, this entire acreage, including Donley’s log cabin, was purchased by the Forest Service. During most of the 20th century, a family was permitted to use the cabin as a summer residence and apiary for producing honey.
Donley’s classic double pen cabin uniquely combines English, Germanic and Swiss chalet-type architectural influences. These are types of log construction found in the Southern Appalachians, but not often combined. The historic hand-hewn log cabin was rehabilitated by the Forest Service in 1993.