The Time Capsule Hidden in Plain Sight at Cincinnati Nature Center’s Rowe Woods

Explore the Cincinnati Nature Center’s historic cabin for a lesson in early 1800s architecture.
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Photograph by Hatsue

You wouldn’t necessarily visit the Cincinnati Nature Center’s Rowe Woods for a lesson in early 1800s architecture. But hidden in plain sight among sprawling forests and wildflower fields is a living time capsule that typifies what homes looked like for southern Ohio’s early families—and it’s worth seeking out. The Abner Hollow Cabin was originally situated near Waggoner’s Riffle, a point at the Ohio Bush Creek in Adams County where the water was just shallow enough for wagons to cross. Cincinnati proper had only recently been settled when the cabin was raised in 1805, but the differences between life at Waggoner’s Riffle and the burgeoning city couldn’t have been more glaring. Furniture here would likely have been hand-made instead of imported, and even glass windowpanes were considered a luxury. At one point, the Nature Center estimates, at least 12 people simultaneously called the cabin home. Years after its inhabitants moved up and out (cabins were considered unfashionable by the early 1900s), the Edge of Appalachia Nature Preserve was worried for its structural safety, so they uprooted it and sent it (very carefully) to its current resting place at Rowe Woods, where it’s lovingly maintained and the subject of endless fascination for visitors along the Mashburn Family Discovery Trail.

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