A Short History of Timberline Lodge

By Lloyd Musser

As early as the 1880’s, people were thinking about building LODGES on Mount Hood. In 1889, Wm. Ladd and CES Wood built Cloud Cap Inn.
Visitors had to travel by railroad to Hood River, then take a stage coach, via a toll road, to reach this rustic lodge, near the timberline on the north side in a beautiful spot close to the mountain. Periodically, people proposed new lodges at this location, including John Yeon.

1925   The state of Oregon constructed the Mount Hood Loop Highway, which sealed the fate on the north side lodge. Several proposals were made to build a lodge on the south side, because of the shorter travel time from Portland, and the scenic views- plus the terrain on the south slope was more favorable to recreation.

1933    President Roosevelt and New Deal programs:
Between Sept. 1933 and Sept. 1935, various competing Portland business interests proposed that the Government build a lodge that private enterprise would operate.
Finally in Sept 1935, a formal request was made to Washington DC by the Oregon administration of New Deal programs. The proposal was quite sketchy, but it proposed a Winter Sports Recreation Project.
The cost was to be $246,893. and would employ 220 men for 18 months. Project: ski runs, barn, swimming tanks, and a small warming hut!!!

January 1936   Project is in full planning mode. Tremendous political-in fighting as to who would design, and operate, the lodge. They were not even sure what the project was, but Portland business interests wanted a part of the action. Lots of questions: would it be a day warming hut or a hotel; would it be an economical or high-end hotel? Who would use it and for what?

Finally the Forest Service won or assumed the right to design the entire project. The Forest Service and the State Director of the WPA were able to pull off the largest RECREATION projects (most projects were infrastructure projects).