It is 1947 and World War Two was over. Skiing was just getting started before the war, and now that there was peace, people wanted to ski. Mount Hood’s skiing glory days were just getting started again.
This was the year that a group of people got together with a vision that was before its time. The Mount Hood Aerial Transportation Company was formed with a plan to create an aerial tramway to Timberline Lodge on the south slope of Mount Hood from Government Camp, the gathering spot for every activity on The Mountain. It was to be called The Skiway, pronounced “Skyway.”
Transportation to Timberline consisted of riding, driving your own car up the old road to the lodge, the Timberline bus which cost .50 or one could hitchhike. If you drove up, typically a group would carpool. The group would ski the trail to Government Camp, and the driver would drive the car back down at the end of the day. The tramway made sense. A person could take the tram from Government camp to Timberline Lodge, ski the day at the lodge and then ski the Glade or Alpine Trails back down to Government Camp; or ride the tram back down.
Skiers were excited about the prospect and the construction of the towers that would support the cable system was started in 1948. The plan was to build the system using a city bus as a tram car, suspend it from cables and drive it with a method used by loggers in their sky hook log yarding mechanism. The bus would be self-propelled and would pull itself along with a set of pulleys positioned where the wheels would be, drawing the drive cable through and moving the bus up or down the hill.
The company planned a lodge at the lower terminus of the cable line. This served as the terminal for loading and unloading passengers, which was done on a deck or platform located on the upper level just under the roof. There was also a restaurant, restrooms, a waiting lounge, and a gift shop in the lodge. The upper terminus was located at the west end of Timberline Lodge.
The lodge was completed, and the towers were erected in 1949. This was the same year that the new road to Timberline was opened, creating a shorter trip with a slighter grade and less curves than the old road, making access much easier for personal automobiles, which would be a strike against the success of the Skiway.
The winters of 1950 and 1951 were very heavy snow winters. This delayed construction and crews had to scramble to get the operation completed. It was scheduled to be opened in early 1950 but was delayed until the Fall. The day finally came, January 3rd, 1951. The skiers were very enthusiastic, but the novelty wore off quickly. Also consider that with the new road in place and with the Timberline Lodge bus fare being .50 cents and the tramway costing .75 cents, all these factors attributed to its ultimate demise. The Skiway struggled to make a profit for its stockholders and was finally closed in 1956.
In the early days the Welches Hotel wasn’t the only resort in the Salmon River Valley in the foothills of Mount Hood, Oregon. About a mile past the Welch’s place, at the end of the road, was Tawney’s Mountain Home. Situated along the Salmon River with vast stretches of wilderness surrounding it, Tawney’s Hotel was an outdoor vacation destination from 1910 to 1945.
Hotel Maulding, Welches, Oregon
The hotel was built on a portion of the old Walkley family homestead south of Welches. The Walkley’s didn’t operate a hotel, but they kept boarders in their home. John Maulding and his wife bought the property in 1906, which included 100 acres and the Walkley home. The home was remodeled and enlarged using the homestead house for the dining room, with an addition for lodging, turning it into what was known as the Maulding’s Hotel.
In 1909 Francis H. Tawney and his wife Henriett leased the property and in 1910 they purchased it and started improvements to the hotel. In 1913 a fire burned a large portion of the old hotel building. A new two story addition was quickly built and new hotel was ready for guests in 1914.
Tawney’s Hotel, Welches Oregon before the fire
Tawney’s Hotel was a large building with 15 guest rooms. Because the hotel was so popular, they erected tent cabins on the grounds outside to accommodate more guests. As you entered the building you came into a huge living area with a large rock fireplace. There was a large staircase leading to the upper floor where the guest rooms were located. Adjoining the living room was a huge dining room with its own fireplace and a large dining table. There was only one indoor bathroom, with commode and a bathtub. It was located off the dining room. It was said that you practically needed a reservation if you wanted to use it.
Back then a week’s stay cost $10, including meals. Mrs. Tawney, with the help of Emily, the wife of their only son Clyde, cooked for the guests. She served the meals Family Style with full platters of chicken, roast beef, and steak. She always had jams, fresh bread, pies, and canned foods available. She made large sugar cookies for the children, but it was common for the adults to raid the cookie jar.
Tent Bungalows at Tawney’s Hotel, Welches Oregon
Keeping the hotel supplied with food could be challenging during busy times. There could be up to 150 people there to enjoy a Sunday dinner. In addition to the food that they supplied themselves some staples and canned goods were delivered once a week from Portland. There was also a butcher wagon who would make daily deliveries from Sandy to the hotels and cabin residents during the summer. He would arrive and open the doors to the insulated wagon to show different cuts of beef and lamb packed in ice.
The Tawney’s kept their own animals, including cows, pigs, and chickens. They had horses for guests to ride and a pair of donkeys for the children. Frequently Mr. Tawney would take a party of people on a wagon trip to Government Camp to pick huckleberries and have a picnic lunch.
Tawney’s Hotel, Welches Oregon after the fire showing new addition.
They had a garden, an apple orchard and had berries for pies. They also used wild game and trout from the river and local creeks, sometimes supplied by the guests. The Salmon River was located nearby and provided lots of swimming and fishing. In 1910, B. Trenkman, C.J. Cook, and L. Therleson made a 1.5-hour trip up to Camp Creek for fishing. The three men came back with 286 trout. It was said to be one of the best meals at the Tawney Hotel.
Nell Howe, a longtime resident, remembered on summer days the most wonderful food. She said, “In the summertime the tables in the dining room were full for every meal and sometimes people were waiting their turn.” When guests looked back, they remember their fun summer memories of swimming in the river, fishing, helping with the chores, and enjoying the food.
Guests at Tawney’s Hotel, Welches Oregon
The hotel closed its doors in 1945, most likely due to the loss of business and the scarcity and cost of goods during World War II. The Tawney’s were in their later years by this time and the work involved in running a business like that was in their past. Mr. Tawney passed away in 1947 and soon after Mrs. Tawney moved to Portland with her daughter and son-in-law. She lived until 1959.
Sometime in the late 1950’s the old Tawney’s Mountain Home collapsed under the load of a heavy snowstorm. The property sold and the new owner demolished what was left of the old building leaving the two stone fireplaces as the only evidence of the good old days of Tawney’s Mountain Home and a significant part of the history of Welches Oregon.
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 filming of an Oregon Silent Movie on Mount Hood
I have come across an interesting series of photographs recently that document the filming of an early Oregon Silent Movie filmed on Mount Hood. The photos show a crew of photographers and actors that appear to be reenacting a mining scene. There appears to be a wooden sluice set up, men with shovels as well as a scene with men with rifles who appear to be defending their claim.
The scene that shows Government Camp gives some indication of the age of the photos. Dr Kelly’s cabin is clearly seen as well as the old Timberline Climbers Cabin which was located very near the future location of Timberline Lodge. This would place the event near what I found to be the best possible chance to be a documented filming of a movie around Mount Hood. A silent movie filmed in 1917 called “A Nugget in The Rough”.
The subject of this movie seems to be about gold miners. There seems to be a scene with gold panners with a sluice filmed on the slopes of Mount Hood. There’s also a scene where it appears that the miners are protecting their claim with rifles. After I acquired the photos I found out there were other scenes to this set that appear to have been filmed in Portland at a constructed set with a primitive town, log buildings etc. The town scenes appear to depict the activities of miners when they’re in town to spending their earnings, including saloon scenes and a group of “painted ladies”.
I thought that these photos would be great to own, but now that I have acquired them I’m a bit saddened that the group was broken up and separated. These are historically significant images depicting very early movie making in Oregon. Perhaps one of the first Oregon Silent Movie films made in Oregon.
This is an old privately made Real Photo Postcard of a crew of three friends taking a break from hiking or climbing on Mount Hood.
The writing on the front reads: “Crater Rock Mt Hood – Steaming Rocks – August 22nd, 1906”. Climbing Mount Hood has always been a popular sport with tourists over the last 100 years. Although Crater Rock is not the summit of the mountain it’s a healthy hike above Timberline to get to that location.
This photo was taken in the summertime when climbing Mount Hood is the most dangerous so it’s most likely that this group didn’t make it to the top.
The Summit of Mt. Hood circa 1915 – This is a “Magic Lantern” slide from my collection. It shows a climber standing on the top of Mount Hood with the old Summit House fire lookout station built by the legendary mountain man Lige Coalman.
All of the lumber was carried up the mountain by hand, with Lige doing most of the carrying. Lige found it difficult to find men who would work as hard as him. Most of those whom he hired lasted only a day or two before quitting. Once the building was built Lige routinely carried barrels of heating oil and other supplies to the lookout.
This structure was built in the Summer of 1915. By 1941 it had deteriorated to bad that it was pushed over the edge.
Steven Mitchell was legend on Mount Hood in his times, as well as his son Arlie, who was the last tollgate keeper at the Rhododendron Tollgate of the old Barlow Trail Road. Lige Coalman, who was raised by Steven, was also a legendary mountain man on Mount Hood in his own right.
Steven Mitchell – Portland Oregonian Sept 12 1920
“Steve Mitchell – Husband of the Hills
Man of the mountains
Whose Life Near Mount Hood Is a Story Book of Many Treasures
By Earl C. Brownlee
For 60 years Steve Mitchell, husband of the hills, has been fleeing, terrified, from civilization.
Yet the dreaded ogre as pacing at his heels again, debauching the icy waters of his streams of melted snow, defacing the majesty of his brilliant autumn hills, slaughtering the game that gave him his meat and heaping its insults upon injuries suffered at its hands.
The dusty road before his cabin door, an artery that helped to carve from the wilderness of woods, is leading multitudes of folk through the most wonderfully romantic section of the land of the last frontier.
And from end to end of the timber bordered highway of delightful vistas there is nothing or no one so romantic as Steve himself; Steve Mitchell, as old as the mountains he loves so well-the last of a sterling generation of brave men who revered the quiet grandeur of the hills above all other things.
Far from the paths of man’s progress Steve Mitchell many years ago sought the realm of heart’s desire. To achieve his goal this man of the mountains first cut his way as a workman over what became, by dint of labors like his, Portland’s Hawthorne avenue. With the street completed, civilization advanced and Steve Mitchell fled to far places again, cutting roadways as he went, into dark forests the circled Mount Hood.
There he found his glorious freedom and there he has remained, while time has etched its wrinkles on his face and has woven a mantle of white for his brow.
Meanwhile, he has reared and sacrificed to man’s estate four splendid sons and two accomplished daughters, among whom are those who have forsaken the ways of their grizzled father and have found success in the hated city.
“Confounded thunder buses” roll by his forest-bound home in ceaseless numbers nowadays as Steve Mitchell peers peacefully into the future for a spot where the profits and pleasures of men cannot be encroached.
In the ‘60s Steve Mitchell looked into the west from his home in Iowa. He kept faith with the vision and from a point near Cleveland, Ohio, he started the pilgrimage.
“And I’ve been tinkering aling ever since,” he says, as he declares he has other distances to gain.
Briefly, his tinkering was centered in mines of gold in California, but in 1866 he came to Oregon. He helped build streets through the timber and then built roads to and through Sandy to the mountains.
About the man and his life many tales are told, but none more truthfully nor well then Steve can tell them. There’s the story of his gold claim to entrance the mountain novice.
It is said that far back on the Salmon River, concealed for nearly half a century against the prying eyes of friends and enemy, Mitchell has a gold mine.. There, the story has it, he chips great nuggets from a rocky wall whenever he’s in need of funds and brings them to the counting house. The claim is a priceless treasure, we are told, that would yield the cost of every comfort if its owner chose.
“Bah!” Steve Mitchell will exclaim if you inquire into the story. “There are more lies in these hills than there wever were cougars.
“Liars, thunder buses and a new kind of man-animal with a whooping sort of holler are the torments of civilization. There’s too much civilization in the world. “If you write articles tell about these man-animals who have come into the hills to pollute God’s creeks by washing their unworthy feet in them and tearing the quiet night with their whooping hollering. They’re ornery-worse than a cougar, and a couple of ‘em aint very far away.”
Folks don’t know the mountains, Steve Mitchell says, and can’t love their dim trails and rocky peaks as he does. Wedded to their wonders, Mitchell has learned their lore as the schoolboy learns from books; in them he has built his home and in them he will find his grave.
In the interim, though, there has been a lifetime of marvelous days, attended with thrills at times, yet always mandatory in their hold upon the heart of this fine fellow.
Steve was bent over a kitchen stove, when by inquisitiveness born of long acquaintance, he was interrupted, and his story elicited by many questions. Upon the stove a frying pan, containing a stewing portion of carrots, simmered as Steve jammed more firewood into the blaze that was heating his dinner.
He hauled forth a shaggy, yet sadly worn pipe for himself and from his seat on the end of a wood box, fanned romance by his talk.
Nineteen fording places in the river back of Steve Mitchell’s cabin mark the old Barlow trail, pathway of the pioneers who first crossed the Cascades around the base of Mount Hood. Mitchell can point out each ford and can tell of the days when he trod the still fresh trail of those empire builders who preceded him.
He will show from his front door the vast, timbered hill where, within his mountain lifetime, has grown a forest. When Mitchell selected his mountainous home there was no sign of woods save the blackened bulk of great trees destroyed by an ancient fire.
He has seen those hills yield heavy timber, where, within the scope of his own memory, there was but a charred reminder of a once deep forest. Over their denuded slopes he has watched by the hour while his dogs ran deer that he might have food, he lolled in their shade times unnumbered as he hauled from their roaring streams great trout to appease the mountaineer’s keen appetite. He has tracked the bear to favorite berry fields and his gun has brought the mountain lion hurtling from his tree.
He has held communion with the lords of nature’s great open spaces, and he has studies their secrets until they are his lexicon-his primer and his Bible.
From it all he has learned both hospitality and hate. He hates civilization; yet he is hospitable to a degree unlimited.
As he spread his Sunday dinner a demand to partake with him declined, he proferred (sic) a piece of his “bachelor pie” that would bring envy to the most dainty housewife. Its flaky crust enough to belittle a salaried chef, the pie he had manufactured, with filling of raisins, was a delicious morsel the he insisted must be followed by a generous slab of light loaf cake he had just drawn from the oven.
“And now,” he jocularly said, “you can stay overnight if it rains real hard.”
“Folks from the towns are taking all the fish from the creeks are we’d have a mess for breakfast too. No, ‘planted’ fish do not restock the streams. Does a hen lay all her eggs in one day, once she gets started? Neither do fish, if they’re left to their natural means, and scientific methods can’t change nature’s way.
“The same civilization that has ‘fished out’ the streams has frightened the few remaining animals back into the mountains, where these confounded thunder buses can’t chug and sputter and roar their dusty way through night and day.
“Between thunder buses and these man-animals down the road one can’t even sleep anymore.
“Civilization is coming too close and I’m about to move back with the deer and the bear and the fish. There are no neighbors there to let their people starve on their doorstep. There is no whopping holler at midnight, but the call of the mountain winds and the cougar’s cry.”
Steve Mitchell’s comfortable little cabin sits beside the road 10 miles west of Government camp, and for many miles around there is hardly a foot of ground that this main of the mountains has not trod and whose charms he has not sought.
He is known to the folk who live in the hills, but to those who come from “civilized” places his is but one of the modest homes that may be found in the wilderness.
His, though, is a home in every sense, for he lives in it in summer and winter, through snow and sunshine. Only upon “occasions” does he venture from his mountain haven and such occasions are all to frequent if they occur more than once in a decade. The sturdy sons who remain in the family drop in now and then to visit with their father or to spend an idle day under his roof. But his wife who saw his early happiness in the hills has been called to “civilization.” She lives at Sandy, where, Steve declares, he has no business. Two splendid daughters hold worthy positions in centers of “civilization”.
Three sons remain of the four reared in the Mitchell family. Lige Coalman, famous Mount Hood guide and forest ranger, whose knowledge of the timbered wilds founded on training at Steve Mitchell’s hands, was reared as a son by this mountaineer and his wife. But Coalman, too, has quit the mountains for the profits of a farm.
When the world war opened the four stalwart Mitchell boys, each loyally attentive to their father and each a convert to the nature-loving, out-of-doors creed of their forebear, were prepared with strong bodies, capable hands and a will for the fray. Mountaineers, each of them, the four enlisted for service. Two were members of the marine corp, one chose navy and the fourth wore an army uniform. The first three were overseas fighting men. Arlie, a strapping young chap wonderfully versed in mountain lore, made 11 round trips over the Atlantic as a member of the nation’s naval forces and did eight months of shore duty overseas, where he visited almost every important city on the continent and in the British Isles.
“I hadn’t been out of the mountains much before,” he says, “and I never want to be again.
The sons who were marines, members of the mow historic fifth regiment, were also initiated to the ultra-modern delights of the world’s capitals, but they gleefully returned to the mountains of their childhood and resumed to their work in the forests.
One of these, a boy respected by every mountaineer who met him, fought through all the hot campaigns in which the American marines mouled war history in France, before he returned to the wooded, romantic land of his choice.
Again in the mountains, held fast by their appeal, this youth, just a year ago, gave his life to the protection of his playground when fire swept through the forest almost within sight of his father’s cabin.
With the same strength and courage that he fought his battle overseas, Steve’s son fought the blaze that would denude his homeland. Nor did he care a whit for the danger that surrounded him when a great fir, rocked upon its fire gnawed base, crashed down upon him.
That was an “occasion,” a day of sorrow for Steve Mitchell. He was drawn to the city-hated Portland-to hear the funeral dirge. And he vows he will never return.
The lonesome trails of the mysterious mountains have felt the footfall of Steve Mitchell. He will not profane the joys the hills have given him by the belated association with the world beyond his forest bound home. “
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 – 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 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