The Ruffner Cabin

Joseph Ruffner Cabin, Charleston, West VirginiaAlso located in the Daniel Boone Park in Charleston, West Virginia is the Joseph Ruffner Log Cabin. The Ruffner cabin wasn’t originally situated in the park though — it originally stood at 1538 Kanawha Boulevard. Built in 1803 by Joseph Ruffner for his family on a property that used to be called Rosedale, the log cabin is said to be one of the oldest extant house in Kanawha County.

The log cabin is actually a replica — the original Ruffner home was torn down in 1969. As part of the 1976 Bicentenial project of civic clubs within the area. The original Ruffner furnitures are on display inside the Craik-Patton House.

The Ruffner has roots in Switzerland, Peter Ruffner being the first of the family to arrive in America in 1713. He and his wife, Mary Steinman settled in Shenandoah Valley, in Virginia where they started their family. It was their eldest son, Joseph, who settled in Charleston, WV.

Joseph Ruffner was a successful farmer and businessman. He traveled extensively in the region, buying and selling produce and livestock. His barn barn was destroyed by a fire in 1794, taking with it several bags of grains and even his farm animals. Joseph set off in the upper James River, searching for iron ore. He met Colonel Dickerson of Point Pleasant, and after the Colonel’s glowing recommendation about the buffalo salt licks on the Kanawha River, he thought of producing salt in the western frontier. He bought Colonel Dickerson’s land that spans 502 acres and has salt licks on the spot, without even seeing the land.

It was in 1795 that Joseph finally saw the land he has bought. He traveled to the Kanawha valley on horseback, and was impressed by what he saw. He was so impressed that he went on to buy all the land that he can obtain: a thousand or so acres that included log structures of Fort Lee, unsold lots of the young town and all the bottomland surrounding the Fort. The land that Joseph Ruffner bought covered what is now the city of Charleston.

He sold his property in Shenandoah Valley upon his return to Virginia, and moved his entire family to the Kanawha Valley late in 1795. Though it was Joseph Ruffner who saw the potential of the salt in the river, he did not see to live the development of the industry. In his will, he directed his sons to utilize the salt resources, and it was this directive that propelled Kanawha to become the leading salt producer in the area.

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