Recording the story of a family’s special place

A cabin became home base for years of family stories. Artifact helped turn those stories into something else that will last.

Recording the story of a family’s special place

Sue and her husband George started planning their cabin in 1960, the year they were married, as they honeymooned in Marble, Colo. They began building soon after, and for the last 50 years, the family cabin has been the setting for good times, good memories, and the kinds of stories that get passed down for generations.

“Our family have told cabin stories to each other for years,” says Sue, now the matriarch of a large family.

Recently, Sue and George sat down with Artifact to record those stories and turn them into a podcast the family can hold onto. The project, commissioned by one of their children who grew up visiting the cabin and hearing those family legends, explored what the place meant to them and their family over the years.

Across two episodes, George and Sue told stories about everything from the initial lumber purchase all the way to family summers spent there with their children and grandchildren.

The first episode covered how they met, came to arrive in Marble, and began building during their “young and semi-foolish” days. They spoke about how they raised the walls during a “helter-skelter” construction and the time they each built one side of the chimney differently — his side squared off and her stones rounded.

“You know, everything we did for the cabin wasn’t done for perfection, that’s for sure,” Sue said. “And this is just fun to look up at that years later and always say, ‘That’s the side Daddy did and this is the side I did.’”

The second episode focused on the years after the cabin’s initial construction, as they added onto it and began to enjoy life in the woods. One of George’s recollections spoke to the place’s seasonal charm.

“The only time I have ever won a tax protest was when the county, having looked at the cabin, after we’d added the addition, raised our taxes way, way up, assuming it was a building that was worth about $200,000,” George said. “Well my protest said I would challenge anyone to come live there through the winter — it’s really just a summer cabin. And we got our taxes down by about half.”

While those in the family have told these stories among themselves for decades, Sue and George enjoyed the experience of recording them with Artifact for posterity. George called their interviewer Kevin “excellent,” while Sue described him as “a very easy person to tell our stories to.”

“He explained carefully how he was going to run the interview, and just before the interview, he went over some of what he would be asking,” Sue said. “George and I had already decided what areas of building the cabin we would each talk about. Kevin seemed pleased to know that we were so organized.”

Kevin said the couple were great guests and easy to work with thanks to that organization. He also found their story fascinating.

"I love when people stumble on a place and decide that it speaks to them," Kevin said. "They built that cabin with their own hands because the place felt right to them. It felt like a home. Maybe not their permanent home, but it felt like a place they wanted to spend a lot of time in so they went out and like the settlers of the past they built something for themselves — a life that was different from the ones they lived every day."

When it came to capturing the story of the cabin for Artifact, Kevin wanted to dig into the feelings, laughs, and deeper stories that have made it meaningful to them.

"The main thing in a story like this is piecing together memories and scenes to tell the story of a place," Kevin said. "A timeline can be boring and something everyone has heard, but sussing out feelings and scenes gives an interview life. Plus, it often leads to a few laughs, which we had.

"I try to get some funny stories that open it up. I want to hear the stories they haven't told other people. If there is a way into a moment that is deeper or more heartfelt than the story they've recited, then that's what I want. I want the why and the how, not just the how."

Whether you have a special place your family visits every summer (or winter) for vacation, are planning a family reunion, or just want to record the stories that have been passed down about the places and people that are special to you, go to to get started.