Period V: 1952

General Description:

Building upon this new-founded support for smaller shelters, the 1952-construction program borrowed strongly from a plan published in the National Park Service 1938 publication, Parks and Recreational Structures, by Albert H. Good. 1     In Part II of this publication, sub-titled Recreational and Cultural Facilities, Plate F-7, is the plan for a trailside shelter called the Adirondack Shelter. The plan shows a structure remarkably similar to the Bear Camp shelter.

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Figure No. 1: Adirondack Shelter from NPS 1938 publication

It is a three sided, log construction, with an open front. The gable roof has a long slope to the rear, with a shorten overhang at the front. The Bear Camp shelter is similar in design, and nearly identical in plan dimension. The plan dimension on Bear Camp Shelter have been turned 90 degrees from this design, making the roof narrower but more shallow in slope. It also has vertical logs to support the front purlin of the overhang and vertical log pairs to stabilize the front section of the sidewalls. The short front roof slope projects past the ridgepole for smoke ventilation. In addition to following this new standard design, bunks were installed in the shelter as originally recommended in the 1938 management program for the new national park. 2     Visitors to the backcountry often cut nearby tree boughs for bedding, resulting in serious damage to the surrounding trees. Providing bunks fitted with split cedar or spruce was thought to reduce such damage. Bear Camp still retains split cedar bunks.

This trailside shelter followed the successful earlier compact design of 1949 with its smaller and more compact character, but incorporated stylistic elements of a nationally accepted plan. It laid the foundation for the final variation of trailside shelters of the 1960's.

Bear Camp Shelter


Bear Camp Shelter was constructed in 1952. It is a three-sided solid log structure measuring roughly 12' wide by 16' deep. The wall and sill logs average 11" in diameter and rest on individual stone footings. The rear wall was only 4' 9" in height, while the front opening was six feet, and a ridge of 7. The open end of the side walls were stabilized by a pair of vertical 9" diameter logs, which in turn also supported the central roof purlin. The top three sidewall logs extend forward of the rest of the wall, supported on single log columns. These columns are most likely not original but installed for addition support of the front roof beam. Nine rows of rafters support split fir shake poles for the shake roof. The roof is combed at the ridge towards the rear of the structure.

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Figure No. 1: Bear Camp Shelter.

Starting in the early 1950's the National Park Service installed aluminum roof on many existing shelters. This decision is attributed to new Superintendent Fred J. Overly. 3     Bear Camp most likely had an original metal roof. The shelter maintenance files note that in 1956 the aluminum roof needed to be replaced. (It was recounted that the metal roof leaked badly). 4     By 1970, a shelter survey noted the roof was now cedar shakes. The shelter surveys of 1974 and 1980 both list the shelter as being in good condition.

The most recent assessment of the shelter occurred in August of 2006, and significant deterioration was noted.

  • The grade along the back side of the shelter has grown over the years to cover most of the sill logs, allowing deterioration of most of the bottom of the walls.
    (See General observations)


    Regrading of site for moisture management and sill log exposure required.

Sill Logs:
  • The large 11" sill logs all have serious deterioration, with the rear wall log completely gone and the rear corner sections of corner intersections of the side logs.


    All the sill logs need replacement and positioned on stone piers after the site has been regarded.

  • The wall logs are all deteriorated at the two back corners, meaning every log in both the sidewalls and rear wall will need replacement. The present condition of the roof just does not appear to adequately protect these corners or the rear wall from moisture. The logs of rear wall have deteriorated to the point they are collapsing, creating sag in the roof.


    Essentially, all the wall logs up to the roofline will need to be replaced. The tapered sidewall logs appear to be salvageable. This work, though, will need to be coordinated with some changes in the design of the roof.

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Figure No. 2: Bear Camp Shelter; upright supports are all deteriorated at base.


  • The roof purlins appear to be reasonably sound, but the upright posts that brace the sidewalls and support the front roof beam are deteriorated at their base. Some newer appearing support columns are still solid. At the time of the last assessment the rafters were sound, but their end grain is exposed at the rear of the shelter and it is anticipated that some deterioration has occurred in these members.


    All the upright posts will need to be replaced.
    Plans should include the potential for replacement of the rafters.

  • The roof slope of the Bear Camp shelter is much shallower in slope than previous shelters. Perhaps this stems from the original use of a metal roof or a construction alteration to make the shelter have more depth for protection. Whatever was the reason, it created a roof slope that is problematic for a shake roof. The minimum code slope for a shake roof is 4/12 with an under-layment membrane. The shelter has a slope of 2.3/12. Even double coursed, such a roof assembly will almost surely leak. In addition, if in a snow zone, it will never shed the snow, adding to structural loading, and have ice-damming at the eave.

    Most of the shake nail poles have broken off at their ends and must have originally extended out further for better protection of the sidewalls. The rear eave appears to have a reasonable overhang, but if ice-damming occurs significant moisture will fall on the back wall.

    The current shakes are in poor condition, with many missing. They were laid as a sound single course, with a second course spaced intermittently over joints.


  • The shelter will require a new shake roof. As originally constructed, the shelter appears to have survived in reasonably good condition until the 1980's, or roughly 30 years. Given the shallow slope of the roof, some leakage most likely was occurring during that period from ice-damming and heavy rain. If repaired as currently designed, one would anticipated a certain continuation of such leakage. To reduce the leakage, or eliminate it, an alternate approach would be to vary from the original design. This would include doubling the number of shake poles to carry any snow load on the rake over the sidewalls, install a solid 1 x board deck and a water-proof membrane on the deck, and then apply the shake roof. This is introducing a new characteristic to the shelter, but one that would increase the effectiveness of the weather envelope and reduce deterioration from ice damming.

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Figure No. 3: Bear Camp Shelter rear roof slope; note lack of overhang at rake edges and interspaced shake pattern.

  • The question of such an approach is whether the benefits of the alteration (a more water-tight roof) offset the loss of a defining character element (seeing the underside of the shake roof from within the shelter). This would appear to be too much of an intervention of the original design.

  • One alternate option would include doubling the shake nailers for snow load and to double course the entire shake roof. A second alternate option would be to restore the original metal roof. Modern metal roof normally have a minimum slope of 3:12, just slightly steeper than the shelter roof. Some specialty metal roof can go shallower but require technical experience to install. Installing just a standard metal roof would be difficult to insure a weather-tight roof unless one would incorporate a solid roof deck and a water-proof membrane under the metal roof. This option would then provide an historically correct roof and would given the greatest assurance of not leaking.

  • There are four bunk frames with split cedar decks. The frames are in sound condition except for the east wall bunk, which is separated from the deteriorated wall logs.


    After the walls are repaired, reattach the bunk frames.

1 Good, Albert H., Park and Recreational Structures, published by the National Park Service, 1938.
2 Statement of Controlling Development Policies, 1938, p. B-4, Trailside Shelter policy.
3 Oral Interview discussion with Ted Sullivan, Jack Nattinger and Donald Houk by Paul Gleeson, September 27, 2007.

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