Log Manufacturer Restores Florida’s Historic Fort King

Fort King, situated in Ocala, Florida, was once an important military outpost named for Colonel William King, the first governor of the West Florida region and the commander of Florida’s Fourth Infantry. In 1843, shortly after the end of the Second Seminole War, the fort was abandoned, and the garrison was withdrawn.

Fast-forward more than a century. Jim Webb, founder of Lok-n-Logs, was traveling from his home in New York to Ocala, Florida. While at the Rotary Club, he spoke with two fellows who were involved in a very interesting project: the planning and restoration of Fort King.

Jim explained that he’d been building custom log cabin homes for the last four decades through his company Lok-n-Logs. But as it turns out, Jim got his start in the business rehabbing forts back in 1975.

The gentlemen owned a 40-acre site where the original Fort James once stood. Their plan was to plan and rebuild it to be as historically accurate as possible. The area was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2004.

Not Your Average Log Cabin

Jim jumped on board and quickly realized that the project was quite an undertaking. To stay true to the original structure, they would need 16-foot-tall red pine logs that were borate pressure-treated and hand-scrubbed. Bringing this plan to life proved to be a monumental challenge.

Local Parks and Recreation regulations required the logs to be driven at least 4 feet into the ground in order to stand up to Florida’s hurricane season. The on-site archaeologist, seeking to protect potential artifacts, decreed that the logs could not penetrate the ground.

To solve the problem, Jim proposed pouring concrete along the perimeter of the site at a depth of one foot. A steel frame would be placed on top of the concrete, and the logs could be bolted into the base. 

Although not historically accurate, it was a solution that could move the project forward. 

The crew would need as many as 850, 16-foot logs to complete the walls and gate. 

Today, with the restoration project complete, visitors can explore the fort, view artifacts from the site and watch videos on the fort’s history. A Heritage Teaching Garden and an interpretive trail are also available to help visitors understand more about the history of Fort King.

Live reenactments are planned to bring history to life. Reenactments include demonstrations of blacksmithing, axe throwing, and Seminole cooking and sewing.

The reconstructed fort is a replica of the one that stood in 1837, when soldiers rebuilt the original Fort King. Prior to the soldier rebuild, the fort was burned to the ground by the Seminoles after it was abandoned by U.S. soldiers. The new fort is a fairly accurate representation of the original footprint. 

Designing a fort, according to Jim, isn’t much different from designing a home. But because no one will be living in the fort, the process is much easier. Helping to preserve America’s heritage, Jim says, is every bit as rewarding as helping families fulfill their dreams of home ownership. 

While you might not want to restore a fort like Jim, you can make your home the log cabin of your dreams with TruLog steel log siding. Contact us today to find out how!

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