PINEDALE – Nestled in a secluded corner of Sublette County just outside Bondurant lies a pair of cabins with quite a story to tell. Although the exact date of construction is unknown, the two cabins that sit on the 4-acre property known as the Craig Cabin site are believed to have been constructed between the years of 1898 and 1900.
In addition to the cabin and nearby tack shed, other notable historic features of the site includes an upright sluice box, water diversion ditch and head gate and historic trash dump on site of the early day gold mine. Before any gold was extracted, the cabin was initially constructed to serve as a base to trap the nearby rivers and streams by a fur trapper, but was soon left abandoned following a few years of use.
It was at that point in time that Jack Craig moved in with hopes of striking it rich through a gold mining operation.
The cabins were later repurposed as a base camp for outfitters, which is what the cabins are used for to this day. Since very few trapper and gold miner cabins still exist in the region, and even fewer in use and in such good shape, the location is worthy of preserving for the future.
Due to the impeccable upkeep throughout the years from previous owners and through efforts to save the buildings from encroaching wildfires, the buildings still stand in fairy good condition to this day and are still utilized by Green River and Bridger-Teton Outfitters, which was purchased in 2013 by experienced outfitters Pat and Jill Maier from previous owner and outfitter Bill Webb. Through purchasing the outfitting business, the historic cabins came along with it.
The couple originally got into the outfitting business back in Pennsylvania, where they first began with offering horseback riding trips through rural areas and on secluded state forest land through their outfitting business, Mountain Trail Horse Center. The two operated the business for 29 years and even expanded to offer geo tours that included fishing, hiking and other outdoor activities in a business entitled Nature Quest.
In 2011, the couple sold their outfitting business and circumstances brought them to the Pinedale area. The two started looking around at what was for sale, and soon found out through their realtor that Webb was interested in selling his outfitting business. Upon their arrival at the scenic camp location below the towering Sawtooth Mountain in the Gros Ventre Range, they had a hard time saying “no” to the opportunity.
“We really fell in love with the camp,” Jill said. “The historical component and cabin structure is a big piece of it, along with the majesty and the beauty of the area. For us as outfitters, the fact that you could get to camp with a four-wheel drive vehicle makes servicing of the camp a little more practical. It was something you could utilize year-round.”
The outfitters use the Craig Cabin as a mess hall/kitchen for their operation, while the tack shed is used to store saddles and various equipment. The 4-acre spot serves as their main base camp, Jill noted.
In the fall of 2016, the Craig Cabin site was listed to the National Register of Historic Places, and on Monday evening during a talk about the historic piece of property, the Maiers were presented with the plaque that future visitors will have the pleasure of viewing and learning a bit more about the historical significance of the location.
Jill says having their base camp listed as a historical place will hopefully assist in preserving the cabins for future generations to enjoy and learn from.
“It ups the ante in how special it is,” she said. “It will help keep it functional and keep it a special place that is important. Hopefully it will be around a long time and it will be nice to be able to share it with our clients and help them understand the rich history.”
The owners appreciate the hard work and dedication that went into getting the Craig Cabin site documented and named to the list of historical places.