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As It Was: Lou Martin Spends Life Alone in Remote Oregon Cabin

A widower from Maine, Lou Martin, came to the Rogue River Canyon in the late 1920s and lived alone until he died more than 50 years later.  Martin’s wife and baby had died in the flu epidemic in Maine.

He moved into an abandoned cabin on Howard Creek and just kept busy, laboring 12 to 15 hours a day.  Martin said he rose early, ate a simple breakfast and made sure not to leave dirty dishes on the counter because it attracted ants.

Martin prospected, fished, hunted and cut firewood, supplementing his diet with cases of canned goods delivered by a mule-packer.  At dusk, he came home, cooked and cleaned, relaxed a bit and went to bed.

Martin read a lot, often by kerosene lamp. He had a battery radio, a subscription to the National Geographic, and took politics seriously.

If a visitor stopped by, Martin would offer a cup of coffee.  Guests stayed about an hour and no longer so as not to wear out their welcome, as was the custom in the hills.

Martin said he never felt lonely in his remote cabin on the creek. 

Source: Atwood, Kay. Illahe, the Story of Settlement in the Rogue River Canyon. Ashland, Ore., self-published 1978

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Laurel earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. Her research efforts as a volunteer for the Curry Historical Society produced numerous newsletter articles and exhibits and earned her a reputation as a seasoned local history buff. Laurel is the author of "Renderings from the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery", a 50-page booklet containing a walking tour and snippets about the lives and times of folks buried there. She is also a contributing writer to Oregon Coast Magazine.