When Eddie Bowen wants to refer to a map of the USA, he need look no farther than a stone wall in the basement of his log cabin home in Magnolia.
Bowen created the 8x15-foot map of the contiguous 48 states by cutting various shaped rocks into recognizable individual states and adhering them to a concrete wall.
“I really owe this idea to my fifth-grade teacher, Jesse Ruth Hunt, who imprinted in our minds the shapes of the states so we could name them if we saw them,” Bowen said.
While looking for rocks to use in building his log cabin, one particular stone he found brought the idea of a rock-wall map into action.
“When I picked it up, I thought ‘That looks sort of like Kentucky,’” he said.
He knew just the person to outline the states on his wall — his former teacher. Hunt agreed and using chalk she drew on the concrete wall all the continental states from Maine to California.
“I traced on paper each state she drew, then used it as a pattern to cut the shape from rocks I found and which others brought to me,” he said.
He started with a border of rocks around the base of the wall for support, using bricklayers’ mud to adhere rocks to the concrete.
The finished product looks like a scale-drawn map of the continental U.S. Texas still claims bragging rights among its fellow states as it weighs slightly more than 200 pounds, the heaviest rock.
The stone he cut for Florida had a hole bored in it by nature just about at the place where Lake Okeechobee is. The Great Lakes were formed with jack rocks and smooth mortar.
“I probably spent one to one and one-half hours on each rock,” Bowen said.
Although the labor was intensive, he didn’t mind it, for he considered lifting the logs and rocks as a different type of workout.
The wall map and the spacious two-story cabin with full basement is a realization of a dream that began in the 1970s.
“I worked and lived in Louisville and wanted to live here,” he said. “Actually, I had drawn plans for a split level house.”
As he was collecting logs for the place, however, he came upon a cabin near Hudgins that was intact, in good shape, and contained some very old logs.
“It was known as The Old Mansfield Place,” Bowen said.
Former Kentucky lieutenant governor Wilson Wyatt’s grandfather supposedly built the structure for Thomas and Minnie Shaw who married in 1854 and lived there.
When Bowen purchased the cabin, he carefully removed and numbered each log, then reconstructed it on his LaRue County site.
“I changed my blueprints from a split level to using this home as the focal point and building rooms around it,” he said.
Bowen started laying the logs in 1975, adding sections from two other cabins and a barn he had found in LaRue and surrounding counties.
By 1980, when he moved in, the structure had grown to 3,600 square feet. He added front porches to the floor and upper levels and currently is building a sunroom.
“It’s still a work in progress,” he said.