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Levi Howell Manning was born in Halifax County, North Carolina in 1864. In his youth his parents moved to Mississippi. After graduating from the University of Mississippi he migrated to Tucson in 1884. Since he had little money at the time, Manning got a job driving an ice wagon. Soon he became a reporter for the Star and then the Citizen By 1885 he held the position of Chief of the Mineral Department in the Office of the United States Surveyor General for the Territory of Arizona. In his successful career he next entered into partnership with Frank Oury in the real estate and mining business. When Oury was killed, Manning took over the company. In 1893 President Cleveland appointed him the United States Surveyor General for Arizona Territory. By 1900 he established the L.H. Manning and Company commission brokerage house. Beginning in 1905 he held one term as Mayor of Tucson. By 1910 he expanded into the ranching business and raised pure blooded cattle and horses. Among his holdings were the Canoa, Scotch, and La Osa ranches. He died in 1935 while at his summer home in Beverly Hills, California. [1]

In 1904 Manning filed for a 160 acre homestead in the Rincon Mountains where he planned to build a summer cabin retreat. That same year he had Mexican workmen construct an eleven mile wagon road to the proposed cabin site (see base map). The following year, 1905, Manning erected tents on his mountain land in which to house a Mexican workforce while they built his cabin. Provisions, tools, and equipment were taken to the area by pack horse and wagon over the newly constructed road. Manning's ranch foreman, David Waldon, oversaw fabrication of the structure. Trees for the cabin were felled in the immediate area. After it was completed in mid-summer 1905, the Manning family used this structure as a summer home to escape the heat of Tucson and as a cool place where friends could be entertained. Manning was the first to build such a cabin retreat in the mountains. [2]

floor plan
Figure 13. Original floor plan of Manning Cabin as described by Howell Manning.

As constructed Manning's cabin was a log structure. Daubing sealed the cracks between the logs. Rolled roofing covered the sheathing that was placed over the log trusses (Photos 1-5). On the interior the cabin consisted of a living room with a fireplace, a kitchen, two bedrooms, and two, small bunk rooms (Figure 13). Manning had a piano hauled by wagon to the cabin. [3]

Manning Cabin
Photo 1. Manning Cabin ca. 1906. Saguaro National Monument Files

This view of the structure shows its east side. The living room is on the right. The cabin's central section is enclosed with verticle, daubed slabs. One can see the rolled roofing. The butt ends of the log trusses extend beyond the edge of the eaves. There are no windows on this side of the living quarters and no door in what became the storage shed.

Manning Cabin
Photo 2. Manning Cabin 1906. Saguaro National Monument Files

This picture gives a close-up of the roof and the daubing between the logs on the east side of the living room.

Manning Cabin
Photo 3. Manning Cabin ca. 1906-07. Saguaro National Monument Files

Another view of the east side. Again one can see the absence of a door on what became the storage room and the vertical slabs enclosing the central portion. The wagon arrived by way of a road especially constructed to haul supplies to the cabin.

Manning Cabin
Photo 4. Manning Cabin ca. 1906-07. Saguaro National Monument Files

A close-up of the east side of the living room. Here the bottom portion of the door can be seen.

Manning Cabin
Photo 5. Manning Cabin ca. 1906-07. Saguaro National Monument Files

This photograph shows the east side of the cabin at the juncture of the living room and the central area. Here one can see the verticle, daubed slabs which enclosed a bedroom.

In mid-1907 Manning's homestead rights were revoked when that area of the Rincon Mountains was attached to the Santa Catalina Division of the Coronado National Forest. He then leased the land from the Forest Service for several years, but the family did not use the cabin after the summer of 1907. For the next thirteen to fourteen years only an occasional hunter, rancher, or forest ranger visited the structure (Photos 6 and 7). In 1922 the Forest Service decided to move the quarters for its fire watch and trail crew from Spud Rock Cabin to Manning Cabin even though the structure had begun to deteriorate by 1914. [4]

Manning Cabin
Photo 6. Manning Cabin ca. 1909-10. Saguaro National Monument Files

A view of the east side of the living room. The cabin appears to be in good condition although the butt ends of the wall logs seem to have begun to crack. The two men are probably Forest Service employees.

Manning Cabin
Photo 7. Manning Cabin ca. 1912-14. Saguaro National Monument Files

A picture of the east side of the living room and part of the central area. The structure shows evidence of deterioration. The rolled roofing has begun to peel and the daubing has disappeared from between the vertical slabs of the walkway.

An article in the Arizona Star of 1959 claimed that Manning had a bedroom and storage space in a lean-to attached to the cabin. Since this addition had not weathered well over the years, the Forest Service removed it in 1922 and thereby reduced the living space. If that article is correct the lean-to would have had to have been on the back or west side of the cabin as photographs do not reveal any such rooms on the ends or east side. A 1976 article in the same newspaper, which is probably the correct version, indicated that the dimensions of the cabin of Manning's day was the same as the one that stands today. [5]

When the Forest Service decided to use the cabin in 1922, it made some repairs. The structure was reroofed. In addition the interior wall between the kitchen and living room was undoubtedly removed at this time. A concrete floor was poured in that area which then became a kitchen and bedroom. The central verticle board portion, which had decayed, was removed thus separating the structure into two buildings. Three men stayed there. Two people served as trail crew keeping the fire trails serviceable and the third man rode horseback on fire guard patrol making two rounds per day on a circuit of four lookout points. This situation prevailed at least through 1937. The firewatch tower built on Mica Mountain in 1938 necessitated at least one additional man for the area.

A little over two years after the Park Service acquired the national monument, Region Three Assistant Forester Ward Yeager inspected Manning Camp. He found two log buildings there. Because it had decayed, the Forest Service had removed the central part in the 1920s. Both buildings, he thought, were in serviceable condition. One of these structures was large enough to function as a kitchen/dining room for a crew of eight and steeping space for two men. The other building, Yeager reported, would provide sleeping quarters for four to six men. When Yeager returned in 1940 just prior to the Park Service's first year in charge of forest fire protection on the monument, he found Manning cabin in an advanced state of decay. He felt it would require complete reconstruction within two years. [7]

For the next three years, the Park Service fire guard stayed in the Manning structures although they continued to decay. At the close of each of those fire seasons, braces were placed under the rafters to prevent snow from collapsing the roofs during the winter. During the period Custodian Egermayer and Region Three Forester V.W. Saari advocated that the Manning buildings be abandoned in favor of a new fire guard cabin at the Mica Mountain lookout tower. Saari expected the kitchen/dining room cabin to soon collapse. Not only had the roof begun to sag, but the logs had rotted and the front wall had begun to bow outward. [8]

Finally, in the summer of 1943 both structures were repaired. The front wall of the kitchen/dining room building was straightened and rock buttresses were built on either side of the front door to reinforce the wall (Photo 8). The logs were redaubed. The structures received new roofs. Doors and broken window glass were replaced and screens installed over them. Two years later the central portion was reconstructed as a walkway and thus Manning's cabin became one building again (Figure 14). [9]

floor plan
Figure 14. Present-day Manning Cabin floor plan.

In June 1946 a wall was built on the west side of the walkway and two "more" windows were installed in the cabin. Historically, the cabin had no windows on the east. Since the cabin currently has two windows in front (Photo 8) and one in back (west), one or two of these windows was probably installed by the Forest Service. The window on the south end of the storage shed was probably placed there by that agency as well. [10]

Manning Cabin
Photo 8. Manning Cabin May 1986. Photograph by Berle Clemensen

This view of the east side of the living room shows the rock buttresses on either side of the door. Placed there in 1943 to prevent the wall from collapsing, they originally sloped from roof to ground. At an unknown time they were cut back to the L-shaped appearance shown in the picture. These buttresses were removed in the summer of 1986.

Periodic repairs and improvements continued to be made. In 1949 a concrete floor was put in the storage room and the interior of the cabin painted a light color. Corrugated metal roofing was put on the cabin in 1950, but not the walkway or the storage room (Photos 10 and 11). The storeroom received new rolled roofing in 1963 and the entire structure was re-caulked (daubed) in that year. In August 1966 the covered walkway (or "dog run" as it was now called) was completely removed and reconstructed because heavy snow the previous winter had caused it to partly collapse (Photos 9, 10, 11). After it was rebuilt it was enclosed on both sides (Photos 11 and 12). The following summer both the storage room and cabin roofs were removed to the truss beams and rebuilt. They were then covered with green colored, asphalt shingles. These roof sections had begun to leak badly despite the corrugated metal roofing over composition shingles and rolled roofing. The roof was also home to many bats about which the ranger's wife protested. She found them more objectionable than the four footed mammals and various reptiles which also occupied the cabin. In 1976 the interior and exterior doors were rebuilt. In the fall of 1985 the cabin portion was again reroofed with asphalt shingles (Photos 12 and 13). The remainder of the roof was completed in the summer of 1986. At the same time ten percent of the fireplace joints were repointed, the cabin foundation was reconstructed with mortared stone and the bottom logs were replaced on the east, north, and west sides. The stone buttresses on either side of the east door were removed. A gutter was attached on the east. A new bottom log was placed on the east side of the storage room south of the door. The foundation on the south end of that structure was repointed and new daubing was placed on that wall. In addition ninety-five percent of the overall east wall was redaubed along with 100 percent of the north and thirty percent of the west walls (Photos 14 and 15). [11]

Manning Cabin
Photo 9. Manning Cabin "Dog Run" (Walkway) August 1966. Saguaro National Monument Files

This photograph taken of the west side and shows the roof supports before they were removed during the time the walkway was razed and reconstructed in 1966. One can see the corrugated metal roofing put on the living quarters in 1950 and the rolled roofing placed on the storage shed in 1963.

Manning Cabin
Photo 10. Manning Cabin "Dog Run" (Walkway) August 1966. Saguaro National Monument Files

A picture of the new framing of the walkway during reconstruction in 1966 taken from the east.

Manning Cabin
Photo 11. Manning Cabin "Dog Run" (Walkway) August 1966. Saguaro National Monument Files

A view of the nearly reconstructed walkway from the west side. One can see the contrast in the roofing material.

Manning Cabin
Photo 12. Manning Cabin May 1986. Photograph by Berle Clemensen

Again, one can see the contrast in roofing material. The living quarters asphalt shingles (right) were placed there in the fall of 1985. The walkway asphalt shingles put on in 1966 and the storage room (left) roofing applied in 1967. One can also see the plywood used to enclose the east side of the walkway in 1966.

Manning Cabin
Photo 13. Manning Cabin May 1986. Photograph by Berle Clemensen

A contrast between the 1966 and 1985 asphalt shingles of the walkway and living quarters. Those shingles on the walkway were replaced in the summer of 1986.

Manning Cabin
Photo 14. Manning Cabin May 1986. Photograph by Berle Clemensen

The north end of the cabin showing the exterior of the fireplace with its unhistorical metal covering.

Manning Cabin
Photo 15. Manning Cabin May 1986. Photograph by Berle Clemensen

This photograph reveals the typical decaying butt ends of logs which are located on the east side of the cabin at the south end of the "dog run."

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Last Updated: 23-Jun-2005