This Scouts BSA troop has met in the same cabin for 100 years

Two photos of Troop 1's cabin: One from 1933; one from 2024

On the east side of Lake Park in Huntington Beach, California, there sits a modest-looking log cabin. Historical photos show that it still looks mostly the same as it did when it was built 100 years ago.

That’s because for the most part, it’s served the same purpose for all these years: providing a home for Scouts BSA Troop 1 of the Orange County Council.

The cabin was erected in 1924 as a token of appreciation from the Huntington Beach community. At the time, Troop 1 had been around for seven years, serving the community with a variety of service projects and good deeds.

As a way of saying thank you, the Edison Company (a utility services company now known as the Southern California Edison Company) donated the poles that made up the cabin. The structure was then erected by volunteers from the local carpenters’ union, the Lions Club and, of course, volunteers from the troop.

One century later, and the cabin is still used for Troop 1’s weekly meetings and other ceremonies and events.

“They believed in Scouting, and they believed that Huntington Beach could have an amazing troop,” says Troop 1 Scoutmaster Garrett Hay. “Everybody knows about the log cabin in the park. It’s our Scout house.”

The city of Huntington Beach helped the Scouts celebrate the 100th anniversary of the cabin’s construction in a ceremony earlier this year.

The Russ Paxson Cabin

Though the historic marker at the site refers to the structure as the Troop 1 Scout Cabin, the building is also known by a second name: the Russ Paxson Cabin.

W.R. Russ Paxson earned the rank of Eagle as a youth in Troop 1 in 1939. He served two different stints as Scoutmaster of the troop, totaling 75 years.

Paxson died in 2021, just a few months short of his 100th birthday.

Like Paxson before him, Hay is also a Troop 1 Eagle Scout. He earned his Eagle in 2001.

“As a Troop 1 Eagle Scout who has now returned to be Scoutmaster, I couldn’t be prouder of our legendary Scout house,” he says. “That past, present and future generations, one of which includes my own son, can experience the rich history of the Russ Paxson Cabin is nothing short of an immense privilege.

“The very existence of Troop 1 and our cabin is a testament to the benefits that only the Scouting program can provide.”

The original Lake Park was sold to the city of Huntington Beach in the early 1900s for $10 and one stipulation: that it be used for philanthropic purposes. That made it the perfect location for a Scout cabin.

During World War II, the cabin was briefly used as a place for members of the armed forces to rest and recover, an appropriate gesture, considering that Paxson himself served as a pilot in the war.

In 1974, the cabin was renovated — again, with a big assist from the local Lions Club. It was then that the cabin was designated as a historical site by the city of Huntington Beach.

100 years young

More than 250 members of the community gathered at the park for the cabin’s 100th birthday celebration earlier this year.

Appropriately enough, the Lions Club was there again, this time not to build or renovate, but to instead serve a pancake breakfast to those in attendance. Members of the public got the chance to see the cabin’s interior, which also serves as a museum of Troop 1’s history. It features inscriptions with names of past Eagle Scouts and old photos of troop activities over the years.

They also got to view the troop’s taxidermy collection, donated to the troop years ago.

“This cabin is probably the No. 1 reason my sons and I are here at Troop 1 Huntington Beach,” committee chair Kyle Gurwell told the crowd. “When we came from the pack … to the troop … this cabin was probably the No. 1 draw.”

Hay says they don’t hit their current Scouts over the head too much with the cabin’s history, mainly because they don’t have to. Hay and his peers were always aware of the significance of the building when he was a youth member of the troop, just like his son and the other Scouts are now.

“You just knew that it was a very special place,” Hay says. “You knew that you were lucky to be in an awesome Scout house. You walk in there, it just smells like a cabin, and it’s got so much Scouting history.

“It’s pretty amazing.”

Photos courtesy of Troop 1

About Aaron Derr 468 Articles
Aaron Derr is the senior editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines, and also a former Cubmaster and Scouts BSA volunteer.