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Timberline Lodge

    Timberline Lodge
 in Timberline LodgeHistory: 
    Timberline Lodge
 in Timberline Lodge


Developed during the crisis of the Great Depression, Timberline Lodge is an iconic property deep-seated in the heritage of America, symbolizing the nation's optimism and resourcefulness to facilitate growth and progress during a severe economic downturn.

As ordered by President Franklin Roosevelt, Works Progress Administration was established as a program to stimulate the economy by funding state and city projects while employing the millions of citizens that were jobless as a result of the Great Depression. While mostly supporting public infrastructure projects, the Works Progress Administration also invested in archaeological projects, including excavation and preservation activities of historic sites.

With funding by the Works Progress Administration, the local community, including Jack Meier of the Mt. Hood Development Association and Francis E. “Scotty” Williamson Jr. of the United States Forest Service, conceptualized a ski resort and began construction of Timberline Lodge in 1936. Largely built by hand, using regional materials collected on site, including native timber and stone, Timberline Lodge was completed in an astounding 15 months.

On September 28, 1937, five months before its public opening, Timberline Lodge was greeted by President Roosevelt, the First Lady, and other dignitaries. Welcomed by twelve hundred community members, President Roosevelt dedicated Timberline Lodge and saluted the dedication and efforts of the joint venture between the Works Progress Administration and local citizens.

In early 1938, Timberline Lodge celebrated its grand opening and within a year of its launch, the original Magic Mile chairlift was introduced. The Magic Mile ascended to 7,000 feet and was the first chairlift in Oregon and the second in North America, activating a thriving skiing movement on Mt. Hood. The Magic Mile's original top terminal building has since been converted to the historic Silcox Hut.

During the Second World War, Timberline Lodge closed as the nation faced difficult times. Quickly bouncing back at the end of the war, Timberline Lodge revealed the nation's second aerial passenger tram, the Skiway Aerial Tram. Carrying skiers and visitors between Government Camp and the resort, the Skiway Aerial Tram operated until 1953 when technical complications forced it to shutdown.

Due to financial complications and disrepair, Timberline Lodge closed for a few months in 1955. Passionate that the lodge deserved one last chance, Richard L. Kohnstamm was determined to convince the US Forest Service to reopen the facility. Despite being an unlikely candidate, with no background in the hospitality industry, Kohnstamm became the new operator for the lodge and ski area on May 28, 1955.

While Kohnstamm experienced financial challenges during the first years of operating Timberline Lodge, his endeavor proved to be rewarding when alpine skiing flourished and the lodge became a choice destination for winter sports enthusiasts.

In 1975, Friends of Timberline was established to preserve and celebrate the heritage of Timberline Lodge. This organization, alongside the US Forest Service and RLK and Company, put into motion a process of collaborative stewardship that has preserved Timberline and its decorative arts ever since.

On December 22, 1977, Timberline Lodge was designated a National Historic Landmark by the US Department of Interior as the finest example of WPA mountain architecture.

The following summer, Timberline Lodge introduced the original Palmer Chairlift which facilitated the rush of global winter athletes to Mt. Hood, quickly becoming the prime location for summer training. The construction of the current Palmer Express chairlift in 1996 gave Timberline Lodge the longest ski season in North America.

Today, Timberline Lodge has hosted world-renowned athletes, dignitaries, and has been featured in a variety of films, including The Shining. The Kohnstamm family remains passionate with its collaboration with the US Forest Service to preserve and celebrate the Timberline Lodge and the Mt. Hood region while providing excellent service and comfortable accommodations. Celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2017, Timberline Lodge is a symbol of historic preservation, genuine hospitality, and recreation.

Timberline Lodge, a charter member of Historic Hotels of America since 1989, dates back to 1937.

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