Category Archives: interpretation

Look ‘beyond beauty’ during tour of Timberline Lodge Aug. 21

Barlow Road Carvings adorn the wall above a staircase at Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood National Forest in a Dec. 17, 2013 file photo. USDA Forest Service photo by Trent Deckard.

Timberline Lodge is an iconic example of early 20th century, arts-and-crafts movement-inspired artisanship. It’s also a study in contrasts – remote, yet accessible; rustic, yet grand; and designed to both help travelers experience nature, yet with all the comforts of home.

Inside, the lodge’s unique, hand-crafted furnishings were thoughtfully designed to instill a greater appreciation of the region’s history and culture. But, the designers also made mistakes while interpreting the native cultures and wildlife that inspired their work.

And, history is like that, Jay Horita said.

Horita is a resource assistant for the USDA Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest regional office. He’ll be hosting a pair of tours that focus on the lodge’s history and social context on Wednesday.

“A prominent thing that comes across is the duality of things, of public lands… we think of the beauty of it, the grandeur of it, the inspirational characters… What we don’t think of is all of the ugly things. That’s part of it, too,” he said.

Some examples of the iconic lodge’s blemishes are already well-known to visitors on previous tours.

Carvings on the great stone fireplace were inspired by the Tenino tribe in nearby Washington state, but the symbols used bear no resemblance to writing or artwork produced by any native Northwest tribes.

The ram’s head motif that appears throughout the lodge depict a species that isn’t native to Mount Hood (although the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep can found further east, on the other side of the Cascades).

Others blemishes are more subtle, like how many public lands were wrested from local native populations, who found themselves blocked from practicing traditional activities of the land even while it was being opened for access by the public at large.

 “I take people to the outside… You see everything from the steps of the Cascades to the dry, eastern part of Oregon. You see pockets of land that are completely shaved and bald. I talk about clearcutting, I talk about the industry of Oregon in the 1800s,” Horita said.

Horita said the focus for the tour is telling the whole story, the more complete story of the lodge.

“It’s not a pretty history,” he said. “But if you decide to wear something that says ‘Oregon native’ or ‘Portland native,’ you are unwittingly or unknowingly (representing) the ugly part of that history, not just the beautiful parts.”

Horita will host two guided tours of Timberline Lodge Aug. 21, 2019; at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tours will meet on the ground floor, in the main hall.

The USDA Forest ServiceMt. Hood National Forest’s ZigZag Ranger District coordinates guided tours of Timberline Lodge several times each month. Times and times will vary. For upcoming tours, contact the district’s Information Center by visiting in-person at 70220 US-26; Zigzag, OR, or call (503) 622-3191.

More information:

Timberline Lodge (hotel and visitor information)

Mt. Hood National Forest: Timberline Lodge history and facts

Friends of Timberline: About the Lodge

VIDEO: Timberline Lodge: A Sense of Place (Travel Oregon)

This Travel Oregon documentary delves into the fascinating history and modern-day opportunities available for visitors to Timberline Lodge, a 1937-era resort motel that was built on Mt. Hood National Forest by the Works Project Administration and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places even as it continues to operate as a vacation destination for both locals and national and international travelers to this day.

Timberline Lodge fast facts:

  • Timberline Lodge is a National Historic Landmark. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
  • The lodge first opened Feb. 4, 1938, following two years of construction (led by the Works Progress Administration).
  • It took an estimated 760,000 person hours to build the lodge, including original artwork and artisan-made furnishings. One goal of the project was to train tradesmen and craftsmen, part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal.” Hundreds of people worked on the site daily. Workers lived in a tent city, outside nearby Government Camp, and new construction crews were rotated in every two weeks.
  • Timberline Lodge is publicly-owned, and privately-operated. Approximately 2 million people visit the lodge each year; as hotel guests, for weddings, to enjoy a meal, or to view the one-of-a-kind architecture and fixtures while hiking, skiing, or snowshoeing the many nearby trails on Mt. Hood National Forest.
  • Many of interior fixtures are fashioned from recycled materials: scraps old Civilian Conservation Corps uniforms were latch-hooked into new woolen rugs, cedar utility poles were used as newel posts, and tire chains and old railroad tracks were fashioned into andirons and other ironwork.
  • Much of the interior artwork was created by WPA artists hired through the Federal Art Project. Botanical prints displayed in many guest rooms depict local native plants, illustrated by artists who worked on-site during the lodge’s construction.
  • The exterior of Timberline Lodge may look familiar to some horror fans; it stood in for the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Shining.” (The interior sets were based on the Ahwahnee Hotel, in Yosemite National Park, which is about a decade older than Timberline Lodge. Both hotels were designed by architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood, who is sometimes called “the Parkitect” because for designing several of the well-known grand hotels from this era. The hotel in the novel was inspired by the Stanley Hotel, in Colorado, and is where the TV mini-series based on the book was filmed).

Source information: Catherine Caruso is the strategic communications lead for USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region’s Office of Communication and Community Engagement, and edits the Your Northwest Forests blog.

Passport in Time: Volunteers sought for homestead restoration on Colville NF

Cedar shake shingled roofs, log outbuildings and log-rail fences are hallmarks of the Uptagrafft Homestead, a century-old homestead and interpretive site on Colville National Forest, Washington.

Step back in time, hone your homesteading and log-construction skills, and join Forest Service employees for skills-building and historical preservation work on a century-old historic homestead on the Colville National Forest!

Uptagrafft Homestead is believed to be built in 1919, and was one of many homesteads in the area filed under the Homestead Act. Today, the homestead is a forest interpretive site, demonstrating the typical layout of homesteads that were once common in the area, but which have become increasingly rare.

The site has been the subject of several restoration efforts, beginning for the American Bicentennial in 1976, and its current condition is a testament to the quality work of the volunteers who have been involved.

This season, volunteers will assist in general maintenance on the site, including reconstruction of a root cellar (including archaeological excavation of the root cellar floor); splitting cedar shakes and using cedar shakes to repair shingled roofs; felling, notching, skinning, and installing logs, replacing missing or damaged shutters and associated hardware, and installing an interpretive sign. Project work is scheduled to take place Aug. 19-23, 2019.

Help the Forest Service continue to preserve, maintain, and improve the homestead so visitors can continue to experience a glimpse into early pioneer life!

To volunteer, you must be able to commit a minimum of two days to the project. Volunteers will work with the project manager on a small team of up to eight participants, and must be physically capable of lifting/bending/kneeling/standing/stooping for extended periods of up to eight hours each day, in a variety of weather conditions. Volunteers must be at least 12 years old (applicants under age 18 must apply with and be accompanied by a participating parent or guardian). Previous carpentry, roofing, construction, general maintenance, and/or historic building restoration experience helpful, but not required.

Volunteers may camp at the homestead or at nearby OHV campground, located approximately 10 miles from Usk, Wash.; the camp will have a toilet, and potable water will be provided. Volunteers are responsible for their own lodging, camping equipment and meals; transportation to and from Uptagrafft and designated meeting area can be provided by Forest Service (the access road is in rough condition, a high-clearance vehicle is recommended for passage).

Your participation can help preserve this piece of history for future generations to enjoy.

For more information, visit: or contact Stuart Chilvers, project supervisor, at (509) 775-7430 or

Passport in Time (PIT) is a nationwide volunteer cultural heritage resources program sponsored by the USDA Forest Service and managed with assistance of many partners, including the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), state parks agencies, and HistoriCorps. PIT volunteers work with professional archaeologists and historians on public lands throughout the U.S. on such diverse activities as archaeological survey and excavation, rock art restoration, archival research, historic structure restoration, oral history gathering, and analysis and curation of artifacts. The professional staff of archaeologists, historians, and preservation specialists serve as hosts, guides, and co-workers for volunteers working on various archaeology, research and restoration projects.