In honor of Sesquicentennial Plus One, I’m devoting the Speaking of Idaho blog to my family’s history during August.
We don’t know exactly when Nels Just built his shop, but it was likely in the 1870s. He used it as a blacksmith shop and a place to work on projects out of the weather. His father, Peder Anderson Just, lived in the shop for a little while near the end of his life.
Nels cut the logs using his own sawmill that moved from place to place on a timber allotment in the Blackfoot Mountains a few miles from his homestead. He erected the shop in a low-lying flat spot below his residence, which stood on a low hill. That residence was a cabin, at first, then Nels replaced with a frame house, and finally with a brick home in 1887.
The “low-lying” part about the location was often a headache. Water pooled up around both sides of the shop after rainstorms and the road running on either side of it was often a muddy mess.
Nels’ shop fell out of use over the years as his descendants built more modern structures that better met the needs of ranching and farming operations as tractors and trucks replaced horses and wagons.
In 2003 family members who were operating the ranches in the valley at the time decided to move the shop out of the way of their operations. Using a hydraulic lift on a tractor and plenty of hands to help, they moved the old shop log by log and reassembled it about 75 yards away where it could serve as a shelter for small machines such as ATVs.
The second life of the Nels Just shop lasted 18 years. In 2021, a new generation of farmers and ranchers decided the shop was in the way, again. After considerable debate the board members of the Presto Preservation Association, our family nonprofit, decided to move the shop a hundred yards up the hill and onto a concrete foundation.
On August 14, about a dozen descendants of Nels and Emma Just hand-carried the logs to the new foundation and reassembled the shop there, where it will remain for the foreseeable future. It is now located on PPA property, dedicated to the preservation of family history, where it will be used as a storage site for tents, table, chairs, and other necessities for Just-Reid family reunions.