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Timberline Lodge at Mt Hood in Oregon and the WPA
The Great Depression
Rustic, scenic and the totally unique Timberline Lodge located at Mount Hood in Oregon owes its existence to the WPA ( Works Progress Administration ) and the Great Depression.
There are still people alive...fewer as time passes, of course...who have first hand memories of the Wall Street Stock Market crash in 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression which followed.
Those were terrible days!
Many hard working people found themselves out of work and out of money. Fortunes both large and small were wiped out in a matter of hours. There was a run on money and banks were forced to close.
Recessions today pale in comparison to what happened in those dark days of American history.
In 1987 my mother, niece and I spent two weeks in the beautiful State of Oregon enjoying what we could in that allotted length of time on vacation.
From Portland we had been traveling east along the Columbia River Gorge viewing the majestic waterfalls and other sites. From Hood River, Oregon we turned south and discovered Trillium Lake which stands in the shadow of Mount Hood.
No motorized boats are allowed and this pristine body of water surrounded by forest is ideal for camping, picnicking and feeding ducks of which many were in abundance the day we happened to be visiting.
It is a beautiful and peaceful setting and one in which fishing is allowed.
We had heard about the rustic Timberline Lodge and wanted to see it for ourselves.
Accompanying us by way of scenery to and from Timberline Lodge at the lower elevations was the East Fork of the Hood River as well as verdant forested areas adjacent to the frothy and bubbling river tumbling its way over rocks, fallen logs and such.
Driving up Mount Hood to Timberline Lodge
The road we took up to the Lodge winds around for about six miles and as the name of Timberline Lodge suggests, the trees became more sparse and were smaller as we climbed in elevation. As one gets above the timberline the landscape becomes stark and rocky. Only dwarfed and hardy vegetation exists.
Timberline Lodge is situated at around 6,000 feet above sea level.
Timberline Lodge and the WPA
The hand crafted lodge was built with the labor of hundreds of people eager to work after suffering the effects of unemployment after the Great Depression.
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was a government agency created to aid people and get them back to being self sufficient by paying them a living wage as they worked on various projects.
The WPA and other agencies such as the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) ultimately achieved not only that goal, but created things of lasting beauty as well as utility while employing millions of people all across the country.
Part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal, the construction of roads, schools, dams, lodges such as this Timberline Lodge and many other things of lasting value took place.
People were actually taught new skills.
In the case of Timberline Lodge which was created entirely by hand , people were taught stone masonry, woodworking, blacksmith, and even crafting and sewing skills if they were unfamiliar.
Design features were well planned.
The sloping roofs are meant to accommodate snow in the winter and the overall design blends in well with the mountainous terrain surrounding the lodge.
Artists of all kinds were employed in decorating Timberline Lodge and touches of incredible beauty are seen almost everywhere one's gaze happens to land.
Local materials were utilized in the creation of Timberline Lodge.
Believe it or not Timberline Lodge was built in about a year and a half without the use of blueprints!
- The woods utilized included firs and Ponderosa pine as well as Oregon white oak.
- Rocks for the exterior as well as interior came from nearby canyons and were chiseled and fit into place using blocks and tackles.
- Fabrics were handwoven and the designs were painstakingly and lovingly created with the idea of keeping nature, pioneer and Indian themes as subject matter.
There is such a feeling of warmth and charm inside of a place like Timberline Lodge that can be seen in few other locations.
Timberline Lodge is truly a marvel of workmanship and design!
Saint Bernard dogs
There were two Saint Bernard dogs who were permanent residents at the Timberline Lodge when my mother, niece and I visited there and they gave the Lodge that extra cozy touch of home...at least for dog lovers.
Whether they had ever been called upon to rescue some of the skiers from mishaps while on Mount Hood, I do not know. They are bred and built to do such things!
We decided to take a break and enjoy some refreshments while at Timberline Lodge after touring the public rooms and listening to descriptions as to how the lodge was created.
A veggie plate and dip was ordered along with some liquid refreshments. It gave my mother, niece and I some time to enjoy more of the ambiance of this beautiful place.
Skiing at Mount Hood
Skiing is a year round sport at Mount Hood in Oregon.
As the snows which remain capping that mountain year round shrink in the summer months, people simply go up to higher elevations to enjoy that sport.
Many a person was seen carrying their snow skis back and forth to the lodge from the ski slopes. Day and night skiing is offered and a chair-lift ride can take one up to 8,520 feet above sea level to the Palmer Snowfield.
It would have been fun to have been able to spend more time at Timberline Lodge even staying there for awhile but we had other destinations in mind for this vacation trip.
Hiking would also be fun in that area!
Friends of Timberline
Except for a lovely patina that has made the wood and ironwork even more lovely over the years, that and the stonework remain pretty much the same as when originally handcrafted creating this beautiful lodge.
Naturally the fabrics, hooked rugs and less sturdy materials would have not stood up to the test of time as well.
Fortunately there is a volunteer group of people titled the Friends of Timberline who wish to maintain the original designs as best they can. They have taken it upon themselves to hand-loom fabrics and replicate original patterns keeping the authentic old time ambiance as when the artisans first did their work in the late 1930s.
Timberline Lodge from the parking lot
Visiting Timberline Lodge in Oregon is a lasting memory for me.
To think that this lovely place all hand crafted and decorated was created after the Great Depression by numerous people of all trades and talents employed by the WPA is amazing!
We were so happy that we got to visit this stunningly gorgeous lodge and see a part of America's history!
Does Timberline Lodge look like a place you would enjoy visiting?
© 2010 Peggy Woods