Rhododendron Oregon Centennial and History

100 Years of Rhododendron Oregon and Mount Hood Tourism

I produced a video to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the little Mount Hood village of Rhododendron Oregon. It’s a collection that consists of photos that I’ve collected through the years and have added to my collection. There are a couple that are in the video that are copies of photos from the Welch Family as well as the family of Dr Ivan Wooley.

Rhododendron, Oregon | Things to do, hotels, & attractions
Located along the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway on a 19th-century pioneer wagon route, Rhododendron nestles into the western flank of the craggy peak. The terrain.

Mt Hood Indian Pageant

A lot has come and gone along the old Mt Hood Loop Highway, the name given for the route that started in Portland and followed old Highway 30 along the Historic Columbia River Highway to Hood River then along the present Highway 35 south from Hood River to Government Camp and the back to Portland via Highway 26, the route of the original Barlow Trail and the Mt Hood Highway. Of course it could be travelled in either direction, but either way the route would take one completely around Mount Hood. It’s still a very popular “Sunday drive” for those wanting to get away and see some scenery.

Things have changed through the years – Cars are faster and roads are better. Today one can take the drive and only stop for a quick lunch before they arrive back at home again all within a day, but there once was a time when folks would take the trip on the old Mt hood Loop and take a week long vacation to do it. During those times there were many more stops to be had along the way that were tourist draws such as restaurants, lodges, roadhouses and recreational activities. There were even more camping options back then.

Much of this activity took place prior to World War II but the boom happened soon after the end of the war. Post World War II saw more people able to afford cars and free time and the roads and automobiles were improved. At that time a lot of soldiers were back home from the war and were looking to start a future for them and their families. Some built attractions along the old Loop Highway to try to pull these tourists in and extract some of their money in exchange for entertainment, lodging or meals. One such short lived attraction that sprung up was the Mt Hood Indian Pageant in Brightwood about 15 miles east of Sandy Oregon.

In 1947 one such soldier named Max Gilroy and his wife Virginia had the idea to set up a fort and to recruit Indians from Umatilla to come and setup an encampment and show tourists the ways of the Native American. Max and Virginia were very much interested in Native American history and tradition.

He and his wife Virginia, with help from friends, including Umatilla Indians that they knew, put all that they had into building the Mt Hood Indian Pageant that included a post constructed Fort Barlow. They advertised “Pageant Performances Daily” and to “Bring your camera”. The fort touted the sale of Indian curios a pioneer restaurant, saddle horse rides and playground and picnic grounds.

There was a grand performance daily where one could observe the Umatilla Indians as they presented “a view of their aboriginal life prior to the coming of the white man”. During the performance an “indian brave” would come back to camp, wounded by an enemy tribe spurring the encampment to prepare for war. In time the victorious warrior would “return to camp with prisoner” and a “scalp dance” ensued.

Once peace was restored to the encampment the Indian girls would would dance, a young couple would marry in a ceremony and the chiefs would smoke a peace pipe. Then “with the coming of the white man, the Indians move west in their tragic quest for the freedom they loved so well”. Tourists would watch as if attending a play.

I can’t find evidence that the Mt Hood Indian Pageant lasted more than a season, maybe two. No evidence of the old fort exists today. The location is nothing more than a level piece of land that now contains more modern homes along what is now Brightwood Loop Road, just west of the town of Welches.

If not for a few photographs and postcards, and an advertising flyer or two, this place would be forgotten.

The Wistaria Farm Inn

Roadhouses on The Mt Hood Loop – The Wistaria Farm Inn

The Wistaria Farm Inn, near Cherryville Oregon east of Sandy on the old Mount Hood Loop Highway (Highway 26 today), was only one of the many roadhouses located on the Mount Hood Loop Highway popular during the motor age.  Continue reading The Wistaria Farm Inn

Reliance Mt Hood Stages

Reliance Mt Hood Stages – First Autos to Mount Hood

Reliance Mt Hood Stages – In the early days of the road to Mount Hood, after the immigrant era, the road allowed the burgeoning new city of Portland to access the mountain for recreation. Mountain climbing and hiking the trails in the foothills in those days was the primary activity in the area. Skiing had yet to become an activity on the mountain.

Reliance Mt Hood Stages
Reliance Mt Hood Stages advertising

Automobiles were starting to become a practical means of transportation, but was still primitive. Most people didn’t own a car which gave stage companies an opportunity to carry fun seekers to and from the lodges and roadhouses on Mount Hood. This also gave inn keepers an opportunity to host these people because a trip to Mount Hood wasn’t a simple day trip. Many times a trip to The Mountain was a week minimum investment in time.

Lodges such as Arrah Wanna, Welches Ranch, Tawney’s Mountain Home, La Casa Monte, The Rhododendron Tavern and the Government Camp Hotel all sprang up due to a need to recreational lodging.

The flyer below gives a great representation of the mileage, the lodging available and cost of a trip to the mountain.

Those days were primitive and simple and difficult compared to this day and age, but the life that was lived seems much more fun and adventure filled than the way we live today.

Mt Hood By Motor Stage
Mt. Hood – South Side
Reliance Mt Hood Stages
Mountain Division
“The Mt. Hood Line”
10th Season of Reliable Service

Owned and Operated by
Irvington Garage and Auto Co. Inc.
J. L. S. Snead, Pres,-Mgr. Phones: East 0135 East 3410
Tickets, Reservations and Waiting Room at
Stage Depot
Park and Yamhill Streets
Phone Main 8611

Reliance Mt Hood Stages Advert
Reliance Mt Hood Stages Advert

 

Reliance Mt Hood Stages Advert
Reliance Mt Hood Stages Advert

 

Reliance Mt Hood Stages Advert
Reliance Mt Hood Stages Advert

 

Reliance Mt Hood Stages Advert
Reliance Mt Hood Stages Advert

 

Six Horse Mt Hood Area Sightseeing Carriage Photo

Mt Hood Area Sightseeing Carriage – Early Oregon Tourism

Six Horse Mt Hood Area Sightseeing Carriage – SIX-HORSE TEAM AND SIGHT-SEEING CARRIAGE IN MOUNT HOOD AREA IN 1893 –

Before the days of automobiles sight-seers were taken over roads at the base of Mount Hood in equipages such as this. The late E. S. Olinger, known as one of Oregon’s most noted drivers is holding the reins.

This six-horse team pulling its crowded carriage of a summer-Sunday sightseers was photographed in 1893 in the Mt. Hood area. E.S. Olinger, one of top drivers, handled the reins.

Six-horse sight-seeing carriage in Mount Hood area in 1893
Six-horse sight-seeing carriage in Mount Hood area in 1893
Oregon Trail – Wikipedia
The Oregon Trail is a 2,170-mile (3,490 km) historic East–West, large-wheeled wagon route … on the California Trail (from 1843), Mormon Trail (from 1847), and Bozeman Trail (from 1863), before turning off to their separate destinations.

Views of Portland Oregon and the Columbia River Gorge

Views of Portland Oregon and the Columbia River Gorge – Antique Postcard Set

20 Assorted Views of Portland Oregon.

Here’s a great assortment of views of Portland Oregon and the Columbia River Gorge circa 1950. They’re printed using an offset printing process on canvas textured paper. Printed by the Angelus Commercial Studio in Portland, Oregon. The cards are the same as the postcards that the company printed but are half the size.

The set, labeled 20 Views of Portland Oregon and the Columbia River Gorge, takes one on a tour from Portland Oregon east through the Columbia River Gorge on the Historic Columbia River Highway to the Hood River Valley and then south on what is now Highway 35 to the south side of Mount Hood and the iconic historic Timberline Lodge.

This very same tour can be taken today via modern cars and improved highways in a day; A very full and satisfying day. The only things that have changed since the era that these cards were made are that the Columbia River Highway, Historic Highway 30  has been replaced with the more modern Highway 84 through the gorge. Also the old Mitchell Point Tunnel was demolished in 1966 during construction of Hwy 84, but there are efforts through the restoration of the old highway to consider restoring the tunnel by boring a new tunnel through Mitchell Point.

All of these Views of Portland Oregon and the Columbia River Gorge are available for your enjoyment today, but these old photos bring back a more bucolic era in the Portland and the Mount Hood countryside. One where tourism was more slow and laid back. One where the trip was about the ride and not the destination. One that allowed us to stop along the way and send a postcard or two.

The Rhododendron Inn

The Rhododendron Inn – 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. Continue reading The Rhododendron Inn