Mountain Architecture: An Alternative Design Proposal
for the
Wy'East Day Lodge, Mount Hood Oregon

by Thomas P. Deering, Jr.



Government Camp

Figure 4.47: Government Camp Hotel (Mountain View House), O. C. Yocum, 1899; Elijah Coleman, 1910. As it appeared c. 1927. The complex burned to the ground on October 11, 1933. (Photo by Everett Sickler. Grauer, Mount Hood: A Complete History of p. 41)

With the notable exception of Timberline Lodge, most of the building activity on Mount Hood has taken place in Government Camp. Oliver C. Yocum opened the first hotel there in 1899--a small, sixteen room, two-and-a-half story structure called the Mountain View House. Ten years later, the hotel was expanded with the construction of a new larger structure next door, built by Elijah Coleman (Figure 4.47). The new hotel could then accommodate up to fifty guests. The name at the time of the expansion was also changed, to the more familiar Government Camp Hotel.

In 1924, climbing business on Mount Hood was so good that a branch, of sorts, of the Government Camp Hotel was opened three miles up the mountain, several hundred yards west of the present Timberline Lodge. The 8' x 16' Timberline Cabin, as it was called, provided some minimal accommodations for climbers and served hot tea and coffee for the not-so-modest price of ten cents a cup. Operation of the cabin was maintained through 1930 when the Depression forced its closure.

Figure 4.48: Battle Axe Inn, Government Camp, Oregon. The original Inn can be seen to the left of the broadly roofed Annex. The complex burned to the ground on November 7, 1950. (Wesley Andrews photo. Oregon Historical Society, Neg. No. Orhi 15861)   Figure 4.49: Government Camp, c. 1950. (Oregon Historical Society, Neg. No. Orhi 35191)

The next hotel to be built in Government Camp was the Battle Axe Inn (1925) and its recreation annex, built a year later (Figure 4.17 and Figure 4.48). Originally the Inn and its Annex were two independent structures, separated by some distance (see Figure 4.9). In 1931, the two buildings were consolidated by moving the 50' x 90' three story Annex down the street to adjacent the Inn. At that point the Battle Axe Inn became the largest structure in Government Camp (Figure 4.49). The Inn thrived until November 7, 1950 when it was completely destroyed by fire.

Figure 4.50: Government Camp, February 17, 1949. "A record covering of snow buried Government Camp." (Oregon Journal, Alfred A. Monner photo. Oregon Historical Society, Neg. No. Orhi 47138)

Not long after the consolidation if the Battle Axe Inn, tragedy struck Government Camp. At 11:00 in the morning of October 11, 1933, a flue fire erupted in the Government Camp Hotel. By nightfall, the hotel had been completely destroyed. Luckily, none of the adjacent buildings nor the Battle Axe Inn across the street was significantly damaged, and no one was hurt. Shortly thereafter "Jack" Rafferty, owner of the Government Camp Hotel, persuaded Mrs. Francis C. Little, who had moved her large home down to the highway across the street, to lease her house as a new hotel site. The new hotel was called Rafferty's Flat when it first opened, a name which was retained until his Rafferty's death in 1943. With the new owners came a new name--the Mountain View Inn, the name by which most people recall it today (Figures 4.49 and 4.50).

The Mountain View Inn served Government Camp well until February 28, 1955 when, it too was destroyed by fire. Since the Battle Axe Inn had met a similar fate in 1950, except for a small motel, Government Camp was left with no hotel facilities whatever. The accommodation problem that winter was also compounded by the closure of Timberline Lodge only two weeks earlier. Fortunately, it wasn't long before Richard Konstamm took over operations of the beleaguered Lodge and substantial accommodations were again available on the mountain.

Figure 4.51: Government Camp, 1985. Cascade Ski Club, 1947. (Author)   Figure 4.52: Government Camp, 1985. Mountain View restaurant. (Author)

Figure 4.53: Government Camp, 1985. Palmer Inn. (Author)   Figure 4.54: Government Camp, 1985. Huckleberry Inn, c. 1966. (Author)

Government Camp today lacks much of the character of its earlier years. The newer buildings for the most part are utilitarian in nature and many have turned to the application of decorative motifs derivative of a generic European alpine style (Figures 4.51, 4.52, and 4.53). The Huckleberry Inn is one of the few retaining any semblance of a rustic Cascadian appearance (Figure 4.54).

The Summit Lookout

Figure 4.55: Mount Hood Summit Lookout, 1915. (Everett Philpoe photo. McNeil, Wy'east, "THE Mountain", p. 84)   Figure 4.56: Mount Hood Summit Lookout, 1915. The Summit "cabin" as it appeared on January 17, 1937. (Oregon Journal photo. Oregon Historical Society, Neg. No. Orhi 61724)

In the early years of fighting forest fires it was recognized that it would be of great advantage to have a lookout station on the top of Mount Hood. In 1915 just such a structure was built (Figures 4.55 and 4.56) along with companion structures on Mount St. Helens, Mount McLoughlin and Anvil Rock on Mount Rainier. Despite the arduous climb and an exceptionally wide crevasse that year just below Hood's summit, all four tons of material required to build the lookout were packed to the top by hand. (56)

The summit lookout was manned every summer for eighteen years, being used for the last time in 1933. Several years later the Forest Service proposed a larger, replacement structure to make the lookout again functional, and material was packed (by snow cat) all the way to the 10,000 foot level, but the project was never realized. All that is left now of the summit cabin is a couple of wooden posts which are now nearly impossible to find beneath the shifting summit snowpack.

It is a wonder that the lookout lasted as long as it did. Ferocious winds and immobilizing blizzards were common, even in the summer, making the manning of the lookout a job for only the heartiest of souls. Many a climber, caught at or near the summit when the weather turned, were comforted by the sight of the wooden shelter. An expected sight in the 1920s, a summit cabin would seem highly inappropriate today.

The Mount Hood Meadows Ski Area

Until the middle 1960s, all of the downhill skiing on Mount Hood was either at Timberline or Multipor-Ski Bowl in Government Camp. (57)

The east side of the mountain had long been considered for a ski area because of drier snow and steeper terrain, but had always been ruled inaccessible by practical measure, as winter snows forced the loop highway between Government Camp and Parkdale (north of Mount Hood) to be closed. At that time, plowing the road was next to impossible unless it could be widened and straightened, a project which the Oregon State Highway Department finally undertook in 1966.

Concurrently with the highway improvement project, a new ski area, Mount Hood Meadows, was planned, with construction scheduled to begin that summer (see Map 3.2). By December of 1967 the resort was operational, offering the promised better snow as well as a more varied terrain, especially for advanced skiers. Since then the area has expanded considerably and is now the largest ski area on the mountain.

Figure 4.57: Mount Hood Meadows Day Lodge. Richard Campbell, 1967. The original day lodge with Mount Hood and the upper reaches of the ski area in the background. (Author)

When Mount Hood Meadows opened, the only structure built to serve skiers was the day lodge, designed by Richard Campbell of Portland (Figure 4.57). The concrete and wood structure was conceived as a linearly expandable building to be added on to as the ski area expanded. From the beginning it was realized that the lodge was small, but it was not until the middle 1970s that an extension was added, which just barely began to accommodate the ever increasing number of skiers. The most recent expansion of the day lodge facilities took place in the summer of 1985 when, abandoning Campbell's original plan, a second, independent structure was added to the complex. Both buildings of the Mount Hood Meadows day lodge facility as they exist today are shown in Figure 4.58.

Figure 4.58: Mount Hood Meadows Day Lodge complex. Mount Hood and the ski runs are to the left. (Author)

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Master of Architecture Thesis
(M. Arch - University of Washington - 1986)

Extensive copying of this thesis is allowable only for scholarly purposes,
consistent with "fair use" as described in the U.S. Copyright Law.
Any other reproduction for any purpose or by any means
shall not be allowed without my written permission.

Copyright 1986 © Thomas P. Deering, Jr.