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Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties > Constructing a Camp Over Water

Constructing a Camp Over Water

Now that we know how to camp on solid ground and on the quaking bog we cannot finish up the subject of stilt camps without including one over-water camp. If the water has a muddy bottom it is a simple matter to force your supporting posts into the mud; this may be done by driving them in with a wooden mallet made of a section of log or it may be done by fastening poles on each side of the post and having a crowd of men jump up and down on the poles until the posts are forced into the bottom.

If you are building a pretentious structure the piles may be driven with the ordinary pile-driver. But if your camp on the water is over a hard bottom of rock or sand through which you cannot force your supports you may take a lot of old barrels (Fig. 75), knock the tops and bottoms out of them, nail some cross planks on the ends of your spiles, slide the barrels over the spiles, then set them in place in the water and hold them there by filling the barrels with rocks, stones, or coarse gravel. Fig. 77 shows a foundation made in this manner; this method is also useful in building piers (Fig. 78). But if you are in the woods, out of reach of barrels or other civilized lumber, you can make yourself cribs by driving a square or a circle of sticks in the ground a short distance and then twining roots or pliable branches inside and outside the stakes, basket fashion, as shown in Fig. 76. When the crib is complete it may be carefully removed from the ground and used as the barrels were used by filling them with stones to support the uprights. Fig. 79 shows an ordinary portable house such as are advertised in all the sportsmen's papers, which has been erected upon a platform over the water.

Fig. 75. Fig. 76. Fig. 77. Fig. 78. Fig. 79.

Showing how to make foundations for over-water camps. Showing how to make foundations for over-water camps.

My experience with this sort of work leads me to advise the use of piles upon which to build in place of piers of stones. Where I have used such piers upon small inland lakes the tremendous push of the freezing ice has upset them, whereas the ice seems to slide around the piles without pushing them over. The real danger with piles lies in the fact that if the water rises after the ice has frozen around the uprights the water will lift the ice up and the ice will sometimes pull the piles out of the bottom like a dentist pulls teeth. Nevertheless, piles are much better for a foundation for a camp or pier than any crib of rocks, and that is the reason I have shown the cribs in Figs. 75 and 77, made so as to rest upon the bottom supposedly below the level of the winter ice.

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