The Great Depression Hits Hard
The Pacific Northwest suffered economic catastrophe like the rest of the country. Thousands of Oregonians lost their jobs, homes, businesses and savings.
The WPA is Established
As part of the New Deal President Franklin Delano Roosevelt established the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and funded the majority of Timberline’s construction. This funding was the catalyst that started the creation of a ski lodge originally envisioned by several groups including Jack Meier of the Mt. Hood Development Association, and Francis E. “Scotty” Williamson Jr. of the USFS.
Building the Lodge
Once the ground was clear of snow construction of the lodge proceeded and was completed in 15 months-a remarkable achievement. The lodge was primarily built by hand using native materials collected on site and from around the region.
On the morning of September 28, 1937, the President, the First Lady, and an entourage of ninety arrived at the lodge to be greeted by an assemblage of twelve hundred-it was a monumental event for a monumental effort.
The Magic Mile Is Opened
The original Magic Mile Chairlift is the first chairlift in Oregon and the second chairlift in North America, ushering in a golden era of skiing on Mt. Hood. The lift ascended to its top terminal building at 7,000’, that has since been converted into the now historic Silcox Hut.
Closure During World War II
Timberline Lodge was closed during WWII as the country braced itself for difficult times.
Skiway Aerial Tram Opens
America’s second aerial passenger tram carried skiers and sightseers between Government Camp and Timberline from 1951 to 1953. The ride to the lodge averaged 20-30 minutes and often broke down-rendering it obsolete after a few short years.
Timberline Lodge Shuts Down Again!
The lodge was shut down on February 17, 1955 by the USFS due to mis-management and failure by its management company to pay its bills. Gambling and prostitution had found their way into the lodge just before the closure.
Richard L. Kohnstamm Signs Lease for the Lodge
R.L.K. convinced the forest service that Timberline deserves one last chance. He was an unlikely candidate for the position as his background was outside of the hotel business. His energy and tenacity won out and on May 28, 1955 he was accepted by the Forest Service as the new operator for the lodge and ski area. He immediately began overhauling the rundown facility.
Timberline Lodge Re-Opens
The Lodge Re-Opened on July 1, 1955. During the following years, alpine skiing would find a new popularity in America. Oregonians rallied behind R.L.K. and his future vision for the lodge. For the first time in its history, Timberline would soon become a financially stable operation with a strong future outlook.
Friends of Timberline Established
Friends of Timberline was founded for the purpose of preserving the decorative arts and artifacts created by the original builders of Timberline. Together with the U.S. Forest Service and R.L.K. and Company, they continue to embrace the concept of collaborative stewardship.
Designated a National Historic Landmark
On December 22, 1977 the U.S. Department of the Interior designated the lodge a National Historic Landmark—the finest example of WPA mountain architecture. This status conveys a higher level of preservation and historical meaning than does the National Register that listed the Lodge in 1973.
The Original Palmer Chairlift is Installed
The Original Palmer Chairlift opened for the 1978 summer ski season. Mt. Hood was quickly put on a global ski racing stage as THE place to train in the summer. The original lift was a fixed double chair in basically the same location as the present lift. The current Palmer Express chairlift was completed in 1996, giving Timberline the longest ski season in North America.
The Shining at Timberline Lodge
The Shining, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, used aerial shots of Timberline as part of its opening scene. Film of the exterior of Timberline Lodge was used for some establishing shots of the fictional Overlook Hotel throughout this cult classic.
Timberline Celebrates Its 75th Anniversary
In the decades leading up to today, Timberline has seen many improvements. The C.S. Price Wing was added in 1975 to provide larger conference and event space. In 1981, the Wy’East Day Lodge was constructed to house all skier services and help reduce daily wear and tear on the historic lodge. In 2007, Still Creek Basin was opened, adding nearly six more miles of lower mountain terrain and the Jeff Flood Express—the longest lift on Mt. Hood. And in 2009, The Richard L. Kohnstamm Wilderness was designated above Timberline.