About Timberline Lodge
Timberline Lodge, a National Historic Landmark, is a living museum of arts and crafts inspired by pioneer, Indian and wildlife themes. It is situated at 6000 ft. on the south slope of Mount Hood, Oregon’s tallest mountain. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) built the Lodge during the Great Depression of the 1930s, using unemployed laborers and local materials.
Crafts include both carved and inlaid wood, wrought iron, weaving, applique, painting, mosaic, carved linoleum and stained glass. The Lodge is a grand example of Cascadian architecture.
The structure was built by hundreds of people, eager to work after years of unemployment. Ninety percent of the men and women who built and furnished the Lodge were hired by the WPA, the federal agency created in 1933 to employ Americans idled by the Depression. The remaining ten percent were foremen, or skilled workers, who taught others their skills.
To provide access to the site, U.S. Forest Service workers labored for three months in the spring of 1936, using heavy equipment to remove snow from the primitive road. Workers lived in a tent city at Summit Meadows, at the base of the mountain. Each day, canvas-covered trucks would take workers up to the construction site, a trip that could take as long as an hour in unfavorable weather. Three hot meals were provided, and the noon meal was brought to the work site. Morale was high and few workdays were lost. Skilled laborers received $0.90 per hour, and unskilled laborers $0.55 per hour.
Construction work, including some furnishings, was completed in the remarkably short time of fifteen months. The first architectural drawings were started in early 1936, and ground was broken on June 11 of that same year. The wings of the building were constructed first, and then the head house between them. Work continued through the winter and most of 1937. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the building on September 28, 1937. Some interior details were not finished, but the bulk of the work was complete.
By February 1938, the Lodge was ready to open to the public. Construction costs were about $1,000,000. Some private funds were used, but most were federal dollars.
To tell the story and happenings at the Lodge since 1938, countless articles, books, audiotapes and short film productions have been produced over the years including:
Munro, Sarah Baker. (2009) Timberline Lodge The History, Art, and Craft of an American Icon. Portland: Timber Press Inc.
“The Timberline Lodge project was distinctly an experiment…to get away from the leaf raking type of project; and this was the spark that fired the imagination of those who planned Timberline Lodge… It was to be a monument to the skill and industry of the unemployed and it is a monument the world will have to acknowledge.”
E. J. Griffith, State WPA Administrator