Chinese loggers lived in these cabins while cutting and moving trees. These cabins are located near high-cut stumps characteristic of mid- to late- 19th century logging operations. The stumps are cut at least three feet high because loggers manually cut the wood without the help of machinery or electric chainsaws. Workers then jettisoned the logs downhill in a ditch, which still remains today, using the force of gravity. A nearby flume would float bundles of cordwood down the mountain.
Chinese living and working in this area manufactured charcoal to support the growing local logging economy. One cabin neighbors an area with charcoal fragments and large charred cedar chunks. This indicates that there was once a charcoal manufacturing platform on which wood cut from the surrounding area was burned for several days to eventually produce easily combustible charcoal.
Before logging had moved up into the mountainous Glenbrook area, nearby silver mines in Virginia City, Nevada had tried to provide its mining economy with the limited wood supply directly around it. By 1861, there were 76 ore mills on the Comstock Lode in Nevada, and the desperate need for fuel was filled only by Chinese laborers who would drive their donkeys across the steep slopes to bring 100 to 200 pound bundles of sticks back every day. During the extreme winter of 1863-64, some Chinese men would endure the harsh weather to dig in the snow and harvest the wood left by high-cut stumps. Telling of the great wood scarcity at that time, these Chinese woodcutters were rewarded handsomely. They received over triple the regular price at $60 per cord (over $162 in today’s prices).
Although these cabins were usually only used temporarily until most of the viable trees in the surrounding area had been cut, these cabins indicate that they were not always just rudimentary, one-room structures as revealed by the remaining, L-shaped log structures that once formed the base of the walls. Rather, these cabins had adjoining structures used as outhouses, kitchens, and storage rooms. Today, only some of the largest bottom logs of these structures remain, but cooking hearths and scattered artifacts allude to a time when Chinese laborers were busy providing a vital fuel supply to blossoming economies on either side of the California-Nevada border.