Probably my most favored area to hike in southern Illinois is the Cache River Natural Area, controlled by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources with partnerships with The Nature Conservancy and the US Fish and Wildlife agency. Cache River Natural Area offers a unique set of features that all outdoorsy folks can enjoy from the huge bluffs scattered about our region to swampland that look like they’ve came out of the Louisiana Bayou. The area offers 20+ miles of hiking trails, nearby bicycling trail opportunities and a whole lot of education into the past, present and future of the development of the natural area. I’ve hiked the full trail system a few times. The first time I hiked it, I came up to a small abandoned cabin in the middle of the forest. There were no access roads to get to the cabin, either. The only way to get to it was by foot on the trail. In the end, I discovered this cabin to be known as Bost Cabin.
Some History of the Bost Cabin
This cabin was said to have been hand made during the fall of 1853 when John and Christina Bost settled in the region. The Bost family was the first to settle in this particular part of the Cache River Natural Area which is surrounded by the Little Black Slough. The cabin has a total of two rooms where the Bost family lived and eventually raised eight children. Imagine 10 people living in a small two room cabin. Whether or not all ten inhabitants were living there at the same time is currently unknown but the size of the cabin still recommends that living conditions might had been slightly cramped but that is how it was back in those times. The area of the Cabin was near what was once called Bost Island, a chunk of land that is surrounded by swamp features. The area was later renamed to Boss Island and the reason for the name change is currently unknown. The Bost Cabin and some small hints of the past are still intact in the area and the hiking trails takes you right by most of it. We can easily call this area a ghost town of southern Illinois, one you can actually visit and explore on your own free will. In my research, it has been very difficult to gather much information about this place. Scanlin Spur was the name of the settlement and community which is now a ghost town. There is very little information available on the origins and decline of this community. The last inhabitant’s report of the Bost Cabin was in late 1955. The cabin however is said to have never had running water or electricity.
Getting to the Bost Cabin
To get to the Bost Cabin, there are several different methods of travel. I enjoy long-distance hiking so I hiked about 18-20 miles one day and eventually made my way to the cabin. I started at the Heron Pond trailhead and continued down the trail along Boss Island and to the Little Black Slough area. After crossing railroad tracks for the SECOND time, the cabin is found shortly thereafter. The trail is an ‘out and back’ type of trail. If you do not wish to go on such a long hike, consider the Wildcat Bluff access point. From there, it will take about 45 minutes to reach the cabin. You will have to cross a creek and during high water, it may be impassible.
To reach Heron Pond Trailhead, see this Google Maps link. As you turn on Heron Pond Lane, observe the old church on your left. This is what is left of Forman, another ghost town of southern Illinois. Drive to the end of the road to reach the trailhead. The road is gravel and does become narrow at times so please use caution. The road also crosses the Tunnel Hill State Trail which is often used by cyclists and walkers so please be on the lookout for them. There is adequate parking available at the trailhead with signage, informational brochures and vault-styled rest rooms. There is no water or electricity sources available. Bring plenty of water if you plan to do this longer hike. From Heron Pond trailhead to Bost Cabin, expect the journey to last a couple of hours so you might want to start early as there is a lot of awesome things to check out along the way.
To reach Wildcat Bluff, see this Google Maps link. From Wildcat Bluff, the hike to the cabin will last about 45 minutes to an hour. There is plenty of parking and some signage. Again there is no water or electricity sources so be sure to pack plenty of water. Accessing the Bost Cabin from Waldcat Bluff will require you to cross Post-Creek Cutt Off/Cache River. There are concrete pods making this task easy. Please use caution though and remember that if there has been a lot of rain lately, it may be impassible.
The following satellite images shows the area of the Bost Cabin:
(The yellow line indicates where the trail area is. Beyond the creek crossing is Wildcat Bluff area.)
Check out my video on this hike to see the Bost Cabin and crossing of the creek:
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The Bost Cabin along the Cache River Natural Area
The Bost Cabin is located in the now ghost town Scanlin Spur along the Cache River State Natural Area in southern Illinois. While the cabin is...