The William Hawk Cabin is considered one of the oldest pioneer structures in Salt Lake City, Utah. Tradition suggests that it was originally constructed in 1848 inside the “Old Fort” established by Mormon settlers in 1847, and then moved to its current location between 1850 and 1852. We examined tree rings from 23 Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca) and eight white fir (Abies concolor) timbers in the cabin to (1) evaluate and refine the suggested range of construction dates of 1848–1852, (2) verify or refute the suggestion that the cabin was originally constructed within the Old Fort, (3) identify any evidence of use of deadwood, timber re-use, stockpiling, or renovation, and (4) determine the provenance of the timbers. We built a 209-year floating chronology from 36 cores crossdated visually and verified statistically with COFECHA. Statistically significant (p < 0.0001) comparisons with established regional chronologies indicated that the Hawk Cabin chronology extends from 1651–1859. Cutting dates ranged from 1832–1860, with strong clusters in 1846 and 1851–1852, and a weaker cluster in 1855. The 1851–1852 cluster accounted for over half of the cutting dates, suggesting that a version of the cabin was built by 1852, and the later timbers were incorporated as part of a major renovation in or after 1860. The 1846 cluster may reflect wood salvaged from road building efforts by the Donner-Reed Party, and suggests that a version of the cabin may have been originally built in the Old Fort, although probably not by Hawk. These results confirm the historical significance of the William Hawk Cabin, and the complexity of its construction history argues for large sample depths in dendroarchaeological studies in semi-arid regions.
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Vol. 72 • No. 2