View Full Version : Deacon's Seat

01-14-2004, 16:18
Looking thru the photo gallery I noticed Celt's description of the log bench at the Ten Mile shelter as a Deacon's seat. Never heard that term before and was wondering if its a Northeast expression. Seems like the log bench is more of a northern shelter design although I have seen a few in the Mid-Atlantic area. And lastly, what is the purpose, if any for the bench? Their not always at a conveniant sitting height and are an obstacle to getting in and out of the shelter, especially in the dark. The area between the bench and the sleeping area invariably becomes wet and muddy and winds up a trash collector at times. Just doesn't seem a very practical design but maybe I'm missing something. Just curious. Prozac

01-14-2004, 16:27
I don't know why they don't call it a knee buster or shin buster.

Anyway, I'm sure there are many theories why. One is that it keeps the porcupines out. But I know from experience that it takes more than that to stop porcupines from climbing.

One thing that it definately does is tie the front of the two sides together and keeps the side walls from spreading.

I think that Dave Field provides an explanation at the Popular Ridge Shelter than he build and maintains, along with other explanations of why the Mainers do what they do.

01-14-2004, 17:42
Don't know the why behind calling it a Deacon's seat, but I always used that space to cook. Someone once said to me it was to keep your boots out of the shelter.

Moon Monster
01-15-2004, 00:41
Yes, Dave Fields answer pages do give the source of the term, only I don't remember it. I do remember that the baseball bat design for shelter platforms was never meant to be sdirectly lept on. Originally, the first hikers of the season were to cut pine boughs and put them down on the poles. After enough hikers did this, there would be a fine mattress by late summer.

01-15-2004, 07:21
Yes, Dave Fields answer pages do give the source of the term, only I don't remember it.

I was reading Dave Field's register at The Poplar Ridge Lean-To last fall and took special note of his answers to questions about the "deacon's seat". He only addressed the purpose of the long log across the shelter entrance. He said it was to help trap porkies. The porky climbs onto the deacon's seat to get into the shelter in order to gnaw the sweet, sweaty wood of the bunk but instead falls into the gap inbetween and thrashes around on the floor rather than on top of the hikers sleeping on the bunk.

I did a bit of internet research into the origins of the term deacon's seat and the best I came up with was it might be borrowed from lumbermen who called the bench alongside of the bunks in a logging camp a deacon's seat - this really doesn't answer the question "why is it the deacon's seat" so I e-mailed the question along to Dave Field at the ATC and I hope he will have something to add. I will post any new information here.

01-15-2004, 18:42
I got a reply from Dave Field that explains the origins of the Deacon's Seat:

" "Deacon seat" is, indeed, an old logging camp term. (Actually, I
thought that I had put that in the "Trivia". Guess I should add it.)
Historical accounts indicate that, not only was it a gathering place
for the crew in the evenings but also, when a circuit rider (deacon)
stopped by a camp, he used the bench as a sort of pulpit from which to
preach to the crew.

In Dave Smith's "History of Lumbering in Maine, 1861-1960", appears the
text, ""In front of the bunk was found the deacon seat. This bench,
made of logs about fifteen inches through, split, shave d smooth, and
mounted on legs, was the social center of the camp. Here, in the
evening, the men would sit, talk, smoke, and discuss the day's work." "