Log Cabin Syrup Fund Restores Four Historic Cabins at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
1850s Cook Cabin Rebuilt After 25 Years in Storage

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS — June, 1999 — The sound of axes will ring through the Little Cataloochee Valley in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It's a sound that hasn't been heard in the area for more than 140 years — the sound of building a log cabin in the wilderness.

The historic Daniel Cook cabin, which was dismantled and stored in a barn for safekeeping 25 years ago, is being reconstructed piece-by-piece this year. It is one of four historic log cabins being restored in the Park with the help of a $250,000 cash gift to the National Park Foundation from Aurora Foods, Inc., makers of Log Cabin syrup.

The Ephraim Bales cabin on the Roaring Fork motor nature trail near Gatlinburg, Tenn.; and the Willis Baxter cabin off the Madron Bald trail near Cosby, Tenn., need repairs on wood-shingled roofs and stone chimneys. Roof replacement is also slated for the Ferguson cabin near Maggie Valley, NC on the Cataloochee Divide trail. All four cabins were built in the mid 1800s.

The Aurora Foods gift, by far the largest cash gift ever received by the Smokies, was made through the National Park Foundation (NPF) to the Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is part of Aurora Foods' four-year, $1 million commitment to restore historically significant log cabins in National Parks across the country.

In addition to funding log cabin restoration, the Aurora Foods gift will support development of educational materials and interpretive programs within the Park. Plans call for special signage and displays describing log cabin construction and lifestyle, a booklet on the Park's log cabins, and a demonstration project in Cades Cove which will allow visitors a firsthand view of the log cutting, hewing and fitting process.

It has taken more than a passion for authenticity to restore the cabins for America. "In spite of evident need, the Park could not fund reconstruction of the cabins in the face of flat federal budgets and increasing demands on available resources," Park Superintendent Karen Wade said. "The Log Cabin gift makes it possible for the Park to address projects that fall outside of normal operations and budget."

Carefully selected materials, tools and techniques are being used to ensure that the finished cabins remain true to their original 1850s construction. To guide Cook cabin reconstruction, the Park's professional restoration team is using line drawings and historic photographs. Occasionally, old timers stop by to offer advice and share family stories of life in the valley.

The one-room Cook cabin with its two-sided porch is one of the Park's oldest and finest. It was dismantled by the Park in the 1970s after it was partly destroyed by vandals. As part of the drive to retain authenticity, the Cook cabin is sited on its original homestead stone foundation in the remote Little Cataloochee Valley. The finished cabin will be dedicated to the Park during the annual Little Cataloochee Community Reunion in June.

"Log cabin restoration is a meaningful project for the Log Cabin brand," said Ed Yuhas, general manager for Aurora Foods' Breakfast Division, based in Columbus, Ohio. "It is entirely appropriate given the brand's history." The popular maple-flavored syrup was introduced in 1887 by Patrick J. Towle, who named it in honor of President Abraham Lincoln's rustic beginnings.

Aurora launched the program last year by restoring the Gatekeeper's cabin at the north rim entrance to Grand Canyon National Park. "Since then, public interest and support of the Log Cabin restoration project has been extremely gratifying," Yuhas said. "Together with the National Park Foundation and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we are returning more of America's log cabins to their original condition and bringing enhanced information and education to visitors."

"There is a tremendous, immediate need for log cabin restoration work in our National Parks," said Jim Maddy, NPF president. "Thanks to the creativity and generosity of Aurora Foods, the National Park Service will be able to begin addressing current needs in our National Parks. The 1999 donation will not only help restore four cabins, it will also help meet future log cabin restoration needs in the Great Smoky Mountains through the creation of a Log Cabin Endowment for the park."

Aurora Foods, Inc. (NYSE: AOR) specializes in buying leading grocery brands in the U.S. and building their market share. In addition to Log Cabin™ syrup, Aurora owns Mrs. Butterworth's™ syrup and pancake mixes, and Duncan Hines™ baking mixes. In April 1998, Aurora merged with Van de Kamp's™, Inc. of St. Louis, and added to its portfolio of brands with Mrs. Paul's™ line of frozen seafood, Aunt Jemima™ frozen breakfast products, as well as Celeste™ brands.

The National Park Foundation is the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service. Created by Congress in 1967, the Foundation raises support from corporations, foundations, and individuals to preserve and enhance America's National Parks. Over the past five years, NPF has raised more than $42 million in direct support for the National Parks.

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Contacts:

Kristen Hopfenspirger, National Park Foundation, 202-530-1473
Ed Yuhas, Aurora Foods/Log Cabin, 614-436-8600
Kim Scher, Lord, Sullivan & Yoder, 614-846-7777