Monday, November 1, 2010

Our Northwest Castle

Whenever we have guests from outside Oregon, one of the must-see tourist stops is up on the slopes of Mount Hood.

Today we took our current guest past the golden glow of autumn in the valley to the new snow pack above the timberline on the mountain... our northwest castle just below the summit of Mount Hood.

Timberline Lodge was built during the Great Depression as a WPA project of the Roosevelt administration.

The men and women that built Timberline were craftsmen and artists that were desperate for work and an income for their families. Skilled woodsman cut trees that were hewn into massive beams and columns seen throughout the lodge. Master masons carved and hauled rock for the exterior of the lodge and the massive fireplaces inside.

Every time we visit the lodge we are awestruck by the craftsmanship that went into every facet of the structure and its fixtures. I am sure that what was done by hand and 1930's technology could not be duplicated today. I think the skills required for this work have sadly passed away.

Every single detail of the lodge, including all the furniture, woven goods (blankets, draperies, rugs), iron hardware, and decorative details were created by master artisans.

Many things in the lodge remind me of details of European castles, like this door and its iron work.

But this "castle" has a distinctly pioneer, northwestern American wilderness character.

The artisans were given creative freedom to design and embellish their handiwork as they were inspired.

Today the lodge also preserves the history of its creation with displays of the tools that were used... well as showcasing the style of the inn's rooms in its early days of operation.

Throughout the public rooms and hallways are decorative tile mosaics, paintings and carved wall panels made by the artists of the day.

People came to enjoy the lodge's hospitality and to ski on the high slopes of a majestic mountain.

Last week the mountain had its first big snowstorm of the season, leaving a nice start for the snow pack. Though none of the ski lifts were operating yet, many winter-loving people were already there on snowboards and skis. Later in the season the snow depth will completely bury these windows.

At the 7,000 foot level is the Silcox Hut for adventurers who want to experience an overnight on the cold, blustery face of a sleeping volcano. For a price, a Snow Cat will take a party to the hut to eat, sleep and be merry. People can ski back down or ride in the Cat.

The kids had fun with the snow but I am not ready for winter yet. I was glad to be able to leave it behind there on the mountain.

Indulging in the first hot cocoa of the season was a good way to end our tour.

But mine was a Spanish Coffee....yum! yum! One part of winter that I'll take a little early.

Come and visit me and I'll show you our castle on the mount.


  1. Wouldn't it be neat to take an epic tour just to have Spanish Coffee with interesting netizens you haven't had a chance to meet?

    One of the things I loved about Vancouver (BC) when I lived there was that I could get around town by bike all year round, but snow or glacier could always be found within a couple of hours' drive. If the summer was lame, you could drive out to heat and sun too!

  2. It's true. We have such diversity here! It was fun to visit winter but nice to return home to autumn. There is always ocean and desert waiting for a visit too.

  3. what an awesome place!! It reminds me a bit about the Lied Farm/Arbor Day place in Nebraska City...very cool

  4. I've never heard of that place despite having been to Nebraska a number of times. I looked it up and I'd say the biggest difference is that Timberline sits on top of a mountain buried in snow. Also you can see five other mountains from that vantage point.

  5. Yeah...I don't think eastern Nebraska and mountains can be in the same sentence! (well, maybe the loess hills count!)


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