Tiny houses truly do come in a number of sizes and shapes. From tiny houses on wheels to houseboat to yurts to high wall tents, there is a tiny house out there for almost every situation. The same was true even at the turn of the 20th century when the Pacific Northwest saw significant numbers of settlers looking for a new life. However, the journey from moving towards the Northwest to a peaceful life in the serene woodlands wasn’t an easy endeavor.

The settlers had to instantly confront the dark dense woodlands while also fighting against the large timber and logging outfits to find enough timber to build houses and other structures as expansionists had to. Because of the incredible amount of forest harvesting being done at the time most of what was left behind was scrap wood, rotten logs, and extremely large stumps. It is important to remember the the types of trees being logged ranged from giant Sequoias as low as Sacramento, CA to Douglas Firs in Oregon. This seemingly unusable wood is what because a form of recycling, reusing, and repurposing, on an incredible scale.


Some of these stumps are reported to be as tall as 10 feet high with girth from 18 feet to 27 feet! The settlers saw vast amounts of farmland just waiting to be cultivated but somehow they had to work out a way to clear the land first. The towering stumps could prove to be unsurmountable. They would either have to be burnt out or somehow rooted out, and cleared. There was no other way to lay out orchards, crop rows, and allow for livestock grazing.

Ingenuity soon took over though and some settlers starting learning to live with the stumps rather than work around them. They built roofs over them and began hollowing them out.

photo credit unknown
photo credit unknown

A favorite stump house was the cedar stump which proved to be safe, well insulated, and could grow to 27 feet in diameter. This was perfect until a family could put together more planed and ideal lumber for a “proper” house. The stump would then take on a different purpose as a roof on the top and a gate or a window on the side, was perfect for a chicken coop, goat shed, or even horse stall. The stumps kept the animals safe from predators such as bear, bobcats, and even raccoons.

Over the past few years and with the wide-spread acceptance of the modern tiny house movement there seems to be a bit of a stump house Renaissance. In northern California where logging is still rather predominant, some enterprising modern explorers have turned leftover stumps into modern shelters complete with solar energy and second stories!

photo courtesy of mgur/Proteon

The photo above shows a Redwood tree stump in California that has been hollowed out and given a roof, a second story and a balcony.

The hollowed out stump house above – carved by Noel Wotten – is an example of what is possible within the walls of a tree.

The homes were certainly suitable for the pioneers of the Pacific Northwest and could again be the trendiest thing in tiny houses.

What do you think about stump homes? Would you live in one? Would you be willing to do the work involved to fully inhabit one? Let us know in the comments section.

Leave a Reply

  1. Buzz

    I don’t know. I’m stumped.
    But if anyone knows of a permanent tiny house in New England, preferably southern Vermont (within 25 miles of Brattleboro) or southern Maine (anywhere within 30 miles north of Kittery) with any amount of owned land, (city lot or up to 20 acres) please do email me, and put “permanent tiny house” in the subject line.

  2. Cyndi ann

    Such a beautiful natural way to live. Why waste what was gone in all it’s glory. I wish there were more trees
    like this in the Northeast that left these great stumps around. I would love to find one.

  3. Kenet Nicholls

    I’d love in one in a heartbeat. Who wouldn’t? Natural, well insulated, good roots!

  4. Dottie Weirich

    I loved these “stump houses” when my husband & I drove & camped in upper California, Oregon and Washington states! Those homes were very well built, solid, warm and truly made use of what they had at hand! The Furniture was very stable – everything was made to last a lifetime!

  5. Leslie R Bestman

    I have been researching and longing for a tiny for several years now – all kinds of natural building to even finally reached the threshold of the dream but life altering osteo arthritis is munching on my joints and home ownership alone may not work but I’m holding on to my dream. I’m with you Buzz- if I could find a piece of land to live in a tiny permanently that has a house operating on it already in the Rochester NY area – I’d still be able to do it I think… Or a small group of folks who could work together in my area to make it happen without “commune” mentality and allowing land ownership … aw well – we’ve a way to go but I think it’s coming… Anyone in my area w/like dreams – get in touch! lrb.578@gmail.com


    I’m guessing Mr. Frodo is out on a trek…!

  7. Mae Hay

    I’m not healthy enough to build a home like this but I’d live in one in a heartbeat!

  8. Laurie Walsh

    Of love this. It was definitely being done and worked just fine in the early settling years and could work just as well now So sign me up