That is a great story about your dad's hewing dillemma.. I wonder...whatever happened to that timber? Did they find a way to make it work, or did they cut it into lesser parts or something else...?
I was paging through Tedd Benson's second book yestereve with my 11-year-old daughter. Interestingly, she queried if some of the bare frames were churches. while most if not all the pictures are of houses, it's neat that some design cues for grand homes are also found in or take their inspiration from sacred architecture. There are several churches in the vicinity that have pleasantly distracted me with their timber trusses and the corresponding thoughts of how they were constructed and lifted into place, not to mention the stories of the craftsmen behind the buildings.
Speaking of logging camps, down here in this part of the Appalacian Mountains is a state park in West Virginia called Cass Railroad State Park. Perhaps you have been there?
One has to work to get to it, but it is one the most fascinating, beautiful, and outright cool places I have been. While it is more of a monument to the days of logging during the days of the steam engine, I am sure there was a good bit of hewing that occurred nonetheless, as it is so entirely remote.
The other neat aspect of the park are the working steam Shea locomotives that take you up the mountain, the same ones or type that took the logs down. Some of the locomotives are from Alaska, I believe, and were used for logging there as well. The wilderness at Cass is basically unsullied and the visit to the camp town allows you to see, to some degree, the experience through the loggers' eyes. Operations continued there until 1962 or so and the place just hasn't changed very much.
To your original observation, Richard, I think it is amazing how the craftsmen of yore fit and hoisted their frames into position...and with few of the tools available to us today. Reading about their work is inspiring for me as a craftsman and propels me to want to continue further in the craft of woodworking.
I hope you all are staying warm, wherever you might be. Here in Virginia we are expecting snow, turning into ice, turning into rain overnight. I am anticipating being able to stay home from my regular job and thus get a day in the shop.