The Timberline Lodge

Mileage today: 0 Total mileage: 3,899 miles

The wind howled and howled last night. Managed to sleep well though. Today it has still been windy, but nowhere near as much as yesterday. It was hazy though. Not sure if that is smoke blown by the strong winds from some fire to the east, or dust. Probably smoke we think.

We had quite a late start and breakfast in our room and then went for a walk on the slopes behind. There are several trails including part of the Pacific Crest Trail which runs 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. In fact, we walked a way along that trail. The trail gave great views of Mt. Hood and the hotel and was surrounded by alpine flowers, mostly past their best but still very colourful. It was good to get out and get some fresh air, although we always notice when we’re this high. The hotel is a 6000 feet and we were walking about 400 feet above that. It’s not on the flat, it’s when you have to exert yourself.

Came back to the hotel and had a quick lunch in our room and then went to visit the historical exhibits in the reception area of the hotel and some of the artworks. It was very interesting and impressive. The lodge was constructed in 1936 – 8 as a WPA and CCC project. These were projects driven by the Federal Government and were part of Franklin Delinor Roosevelt’s New Deal to get people working after the Great Depression of 1929. These projects took people who had no job and were often completely destitute and gave them a living wage and security whilst often training them in a skill over the course of the work. There were very many such projects during these years: roads, lodges, bridges, dams…… Hundreds of men worked to build the lodge in around 18 months which was a very short time for such a huge building. But as plans and a short film made clear, they were not just throwing up some jerry built structure. The lodge was built with a very high level of craft and artistic aspiration. What makes this all the more remarkable is that it was a master and apprentice programme. Most of the men and women had no experience, they were trained on the job. So, carpenters were trained to become cabinet makers. Local women were taught to weave fabric for the sofas, make rugs and applique curtains. Blacksmiths were taught the skills necessary to create the wrought iron decorative and functional items. Design of the furnishings was done as they worked. There was no time for a design phase as such. They would make a prototype item, the craftsman working with the interior designer and then when the item was made, they would prototype it. They made every item: locks, handles, banisters, knobs….. The resulting lodge is a triumph of arts and crafts: solid, comfortable furniture, newel posts of stairs carved into animals, mosaic panels, oil paintings, wonderful wrought ironwork everywhere. You can feel as well as see pride the workers had in what they produced. It was opened by FDR in September 1937.

We wandered about admiring the craftsmanship. Later in the afternoon we went out for another walk around the property. Had a light dinner in the Rams Head bar.