In the early days in the communities on the south side of Mount Hood travelers on the old road to the mountain relied on the inns and roadhouses for a bed and a meal while they traveled through or played in the area.
The roads were primitive and the automobiles were slow. It would take the best part of a day to drive from Portland, for instance, in contrast to the hour drive that it is today. As a consequence of the time that it took to journey to Mount Hood many roadhouses, hotels and restaurants sprung up along the old road. The town of Rhododendron had the Rhododendron Inn.
Henry S. Rowe, a Mayor of Portland from 1900 to 1902, had the Rhododendron Inn in built 1905 on 160 acres of land that he owned. A Portland Fire Chief that served during Rowe’s administration by the name of Lee Holden did the construction and design.
Holden took over the hotel in 1910, and it was this season that the post office was established under the name of Rowe. The name was later changed at the request of the Post Office Department to Rhododendron in 1920.
Holden sold the hotel to Emil and Suzette Franzetti, hoteliers from Europe in 1912. The Franzetti’s added a 60’x100’ dance hall, a 50’x100’ concrete swimming pool, tennis and croquet courts, bridle paths and hiking trails. They also added an annex across the road as well as several cottages and tent houses scattered through camp areas in the woods surrounding the inn.
In 1916 Emil was killed when his car rolled in soft sand near the Zigzag Ranger Station. Mrs. Franzetti ran the hotel for seven years after that and finally sold the inn and 20 acres around 1924 to William Cash and his wife while the rest of the land was subdivided into lots, many containing Henry Steiner built log cabins. The annex burned down in 1932. The hotel was sold in 1943 (?) to Thomas Rex who changed the name to the Rex Inn. During a very cold snap the inn caught fire, supposedly from a blow torch being used to thaw pipes around 1946.
The location of where the Rhododendron Inn once sat is on the south side of today’s Highway near where the pedestrian suspension bridge over the Zigzag River is located on the west side of town. All traces are lost today with no hint of its existence.
“All The Young Men” Movie Filmed on Mount Hood December 13, 1959.
Korea came to Mt. Hood when Columbia Pictures’ “All the Young Men” was filmed on the snow-clad slopes. Here Walt Aeppli, chief engineer at Timberline Lodge: Don Bar, member of lift crew,: desk clerk Warren Clancey and Brad Holt, lift crew member, appear as extras in war picture. (Photo by Dick Kohnstamm)
In the day and age of quick trips to the store for a gallon of milk as well as refrigeration to preserve the milk we sometimes forget that our ancestors didn’t have those conveniences.
Billy Welch was a resort proprietor. He ran the Welch’s Ranch in a way as to include most supplies that the visitors, hotel guests, cabin dwellers as well as campers might need during their stay. He had a dance hall, restaurant, post office, was a notary public and operated a store, much like convenience stores of today, that had everything from candy for the kids to food for meals as well as other items of necessity.
In its early stages Billy’s store had no refrigeration. In lieu of coolers or or ice chests he had a cold shed down at the Salmon River where he had diverted the cold water from the river through the shed. It kept the shed chilled and things such as jars of milk could be preserved by sitting in the cold water bath.
To purchase your milk you would buy aluminum tokens at the store and then, as you needed milk, you would go to the cold shed and drop your token in the can and take your jar of cold milk. Billy had two denominations. One pint and one quart. On one side it read WELCH’S RANCH. On the other it read GOOD FOR 1 PINT or GOOD FOR 1 QUART.
Today these Welch’s Ranch Tokens are quite scarce.
At one time there was the American – Swiss Model Garden Brightwood, Oregon.
This is only one of many small businesses and tourist themed stopping spots along the highway to Mount Hood in the 1940-1960’s. This is an old flyer advertising the American – Swiss Model Garden at Brightwood, Oregon.
If anyone reading this can positively identify the location of this place I will revise this article and add that information. Thank you.
“Open from Dawn to Dusk. Open early April until the end of October. Bring you camera along.
Nowhere is there anything like it and this is certainly true for the American – Swiss Model Garden. It is a lovely combination of a lovely rock and flower garden, featuring small water-pools, rustic looking bridges, miniature waterfalls, as well as miniature Alpine houses and castles. Through the greater part of the garden a miniature railroad is running, fascinating young and old. Three trains (freight, passenger, and express), all Swiss styled, alternate in running through the garden. A picturesque alpine village, miniature size, containing the railroad station, church, castle and a number of Swiss Alpine houses, amazes all visitors.
Flower lovers also will be thrilled by the variety of the many flower beds, just to mention the American and Swiss flags done in flowers. Beautiful hanging baskets add much to the beauty and atmosphere of this garden. Edelweiss and Alpenrosen are among the outstanding rock plants. Of special interest is the rose garden section, containing rose bushes, climbing roses, tree roses, and miniature roses.
The garden is placed in a natural setting and its atmosphere is very informal and relaxing. As you admire and enjoy it, music, mostly Swiss Alpine (accordian (sic) and yodeling), will accompany you.
A truly beautiful garden… a place worthwhile to visit.”
It’s certainly a shame that we no longer have such a simple culture to support such businesses as the American – Swiss Model Garden Brightwood, Oregon.
A View from The Roof of Cloud Cap Inn – Circa 1900.
Cloud Cap Inn was built in 1889 and opened August 6th of the same year. It was built by William Ladd, a Portland banker and C.E.S. Wood a Portland attorney. It was Woods wife, Nannie, who named the hotel.
Prior to building the Inn they bought the road and created the Mt. Hood Stage Co. The road needed improvements before building could begin. Chinese laborers were employed in the project. A stretch of road referred to as “China Fill” was a 22-precent grade and was a challenge to the early automobiles attempting the trip. The original road didn’t follow today’s road. As you drive up to the Inn you can still see the old road intersect the new occasionally. It ran along the ridge between Evans Creek and Crystal Springs Creek.
The same architectural firm that designed Cloud Cap Inn designed the Forestry Building for the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland in 1905. All of the logs came from around the building site. Cables were used to hold the building down during high winds. Wind did end up blowing down one of the original chimneys in the early 1900’s. Water was supplied to the Inn from Tilly Jane Creek, 1200 feet away.
Business was slow in the beginning. The Inn closed down in 1890 and Ladd and Wood turned over operation of the Inn to James Langille’s wife, Sarah, nick named Tansana, in 1891. Sarah ran Cloud Cap at a much simpler level and was able to operate at a profit. Her two son’s Will and Doug worked at the Inn as mountain guides.
A tradition was started where when a person made a summit ascent they were allowed to take their personal business card and thumbtack it to the ceiling. This was done by putting the tack through the card and backing it up with a silver dollar and throwing it up to the ceiling.
In 1894 Ladd brought telephone wire and equipment to install a phone system at the Inn. Will Langille installed the equipment and ran the wire.
Will left Oregon to join the Alaskan gold rush. Doug stayed on as guide until 1900 when he joined the U.S. Geological Survey. Sarah’s nephew, Horace Mecklem came to help out after her son’s left. Sarah then hired two European guides until 1903. Mark Weygant went to work for Sarah in 1904 and worked for her for several years. Sarah retired from operating the Inn successfully in 1907 and turned operation over to Horace Mecklem and his wife Olive.
The first automobile driven to Cloud Cap arrived in 1907. It was a one cylinder Cadillac. After the trip Mecklem used a Pierce Arrow as a stage from Hood River to the Inn, but the auto could only go to the China Fill, but it cut down the time from Hood River from 8 hours to 3.
Dorsey Smith assumed the operation of the Inn around 1910(?). Homer Rogers, who ran a lodge in Parkdale, bought the Inn in 1919 from Ladd for $5,000. And a long-term contract from the Forest Service was made.
In 1925 the government was planning the Mount Hood Loop Highway and considering building a newer and bigger inn, similar to Rainier’s Paradise Hotel. They pressured Rodgers to make improvements to the road or lose his permit. Homer ended up selling the Inn to a group of people headed by J.C. Ainsworth. They hired Dorsey Smith to operate the Inn until a new one was built.
The plans for a new Grand Lodge didn’t bring the funds needed by private investors. Enthusiasm for the project was briefly renewed when the Mt. Hood committee came up with plans for a tramway to the summit of Mount Hood. But opposition from the Mazama climbing club and groups concerned with the environmental affects and safety killed that project too.
In 1927 Dorsey Smith turned the Inn’s operation over to Noyes Tyrell, who operated the very successful Tyrell’s Tavern near Bonneville. He ran it until 1932 when it stood empty for about a year.
Boyd French Sr. leased it around 1934 until the war caused it to close its operation. The Mt. Hood Road and Wagon Company sold the Inn in 1942 to the Forest Service for $2,000. Dorsey Smith was the representative in the transaction, ending his long association with Cloud Cap. Boyd Smith used the Inn as a part time residence until after the war. Attempts to operate the Inn failed after that and in 1950 the Forest Service was considering tearing down the Inn, as it had fallen into disrepair.
The Crag Rats, a Hood River based climbing club, after a struggle with the government, secured permission to use the Inn as a clubhouse and a base for their snow surveys. The Crag Rats went to work repairing the old building and
maintain it to this day. In 1974 Cloud Cap Inn and Vista House were placed, by the state, on the list of historic places.
Cloud Cap Inn is accessible by car via a rough dirt road when it’s not closed due to snow. Hiking trails and camping are available in the area as well as majestic views of Mount Hood from the timber line at 6000′, the same elevation as Timberline Lodge on the opposite side of the mountain.
Here’s a great early view of the old Welches Ranch at Welches Oregon.
This view is after Sam had gone. You can see the store, post office, the dance hall and the white canvas tourist tents lined up along the road to the left of the Welch home. Billy’s cow pasture, which is now the golf course at the resort, is at the left side while his orchard can be seen on the right side of the photo.
When this photo was taken there was only a sign out at the Barlow Road, where the modern shopping center is presently located, directing people to turn south and drive to Welches Ranch one mile away.
Here’s a happy group of hikers exploring Columbia River Gorge Gorge around 1910 becoming a part of the Oneonta Gorge History . This slot canyon within the Columbia River Gorge and on the scenic Historic Columbia River Highway has been a popular location to explore for a very long time. Today on a hot Summer day it can be elbow to elbow with people.
Today there’s a log pile to negotiate and a stretch of water that can be chest to chin deep to make your way into the little canyon, but there’s an amazing waterfall at the end as a reward for the trek.