Thursday, April 19, 2012

Timberline Lodge: 75 Years of History and Mountain Fun

"This is my favorite building in the world on my favorite mountain in the world," says Richard. We're sitting at a rustic wooden table in a window alcove at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood, overlooking what seems like half the state of Oregon spread across the horizon below us.

I completely agree with him.

When I was a teenager, I fell hard for Timberline Lodge and Mount Hood.  Our relationship started during my occasional trips there as a girl, deepened when I spent a week rooming at the lodge for ski race camp, and  cemented when I began and ended a week-long backpack trip on the TimberlineTrail at Timberline circumnavigating the mountain.

Richard and I aren't alone in how we feel about the lodge. This National Historic Landmark on Mount Hood is beloved by many for its massive free-standing stone fireplace, impressive collection of vintage 1930s artisan works, beautiful woodwork and majestic timber beams, and much more.

While Timberline Lodge has always felt grand and historic to me, this year she's celebrating her 75th anniversary as a glorious example of the Great Depression-era Worker's Progress Administration output. After some troubled early adulthood and middle-aged years, the lodge and much of its art has since been carefully restored and preserved.

Here at 6,000 feet on the southern flank of Mount Hood, historic Timberline Lodge offers a cozy refuge to sit and watch the world below, or a base for more active mountain adventures. 

This afternoon I skied the wide open, mellow slopes off the Magic Mile chairlift above the lodge. At the top of the lift, wind gusts were hitting over 30 mph and bringing the wind chill to well below freezing, so we bundled up  this April day in layers of fleece and down.

While the skiing here is not challenging, it's always exhilarating to ski down the slopes of this dormant volcano. In the summer the Palmer Lift is packed with racers and riders from around the world training in the off season.

This evening after a tasty dinner in the Ram's Head bar, we relax beside the massive stone fireplace and play old-fashioned Scrabble. Later we strike up a conversation with the couple on the sofa across from us. People are generally happy and friendly under the spell of this special place.

Part of the charms of Timberline are the many nooks and hidden places to discover, like the tiny Blue Ox Bar in the ground level (not open today). A typical room decorated in vintage 1930s-era style has been recreated on the ground level also, as a museum piece. While the old typewriters are long gone, the rooms are still cozy.

I never tire of coming to Timberline Lodge, either as a base for skiing or hiking, or to hang out and wander around. I'm just happy to help her celebrate 75 years of rustic magnificence.

What are your favorite memories of Timberline/Mount Hood? Have you ever climbed or circumnavigated the mountain?  Thanks for sharing your comments below!

When You Go
Here's a link to a list of events going on this year at Timberline, which is about an hour drive east of Portland via Highway 26. While night skiiing is done for the season this year, the Magic Mile is still operating days, and of course the Palmer Chairlift will be open for the summer on May 29.



ML said...

My best and most recent memory was driving back from Montana and deciding to stop for dinner at Mt Hood. As we walked in we decided to see (on a whim) to see if we could get a room. The guy in line in front of us was just cancelling his room – Got his room, desk delivered profuse apologies about a room without a view – speaking only of Mt Hood had quite a nice view of Mt Jeff - a fine view thank you very much. Had dinner and our waiter was a community volunteer who had worked at KABO when my husband was doing engineering for them. We spent a few hours doing the pool, hot tub sauna loop. Love the pool looking at the snow bank. Were in the sauna with this nice couple and their two kids – actually four people not at all related they just looked like a family so much for first impressions. The guy was a expert on Robert Hans van Gulik, author of the Judge Dee mysteries – the woman was attending the same conference – who knows about the kids. Conversation was fascinating. Great things happen at Mt Hood.

Martha said...

I've never been to Timberline Lodge. However, Indian Lodge at Ft. Davis, TX, Coit Tower in San Francisco, CA and the lodge at Mt. Rainier were all created by the WPA. Those good folks had such a sense of artistry and pride in their craft, whether it was woodworking, mosaic tile, painting, crating furniture. It's beautiful and meant to last forever.
I worry the young folks of today don't have the attitude---we'll hope whatwver isn't out of date by the time we get home seems to be their prevailing theme.
However, yes Timberline is historically beautiful and the paintings tell these tales of a bygone era. Lasting beauty.

Linda said...

BEautiful Jill! Never been there--thanks for sharing!!

jill said...

Wow ML, sounds like a great, serendipitous evening! I agree, great things happen on Hood.

Martha, I've been to the Coit Tower (wonderful murals) and Paradise, also lovely examples of WPA artistry. I'm hoping there are youngsters who appreciate them also - my nephew, for example, a natural artist.

Thanks Linda! You need to take a trip to Hood some time.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! I love this iconic lodge. Did you know the exterior was used in filming The Shining? I know. Kind of creepy. But still cool factoid.

TC said...

Timberline Lodge is a trip back in time. Summer skiing is the best. You never know if you'll run into Bode Miller up there on the snowfield in July. Having a beer after skiing in the lodge is always fun. I'm glad it's been restored and taken care of over the years.

jill said...

Hey Kim, yea I remember that about the movie when I was a kid. When I stayed at the lodge for race camp there was a film crew from Hollywood also staying there filming a very forgettable TV movie starring Jan-Michael Vincent. We used to see him around the lodge, he was handsome but kept to himself. BTW I also met Spider Sabich and Claudine Longet on the slopes at Timberline!

Todd, yea, summer is the time there for skiing, but I love the lodge around the holidays!