Timberline Lodge 75th Anniversary and Mt. Hood memories

This year Timberline Lodge celebrated the 75th anniversary of its dedication by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on September 28, 1937. My uncle Stuart Mockford worked on the construction of the lodge in 1936-37 while he was college architecture student at the University of Oregon and claimed a “Timberline first” when an early snowfall dusted the lodge before the roofing was done and Stuart put his skis on and became “the first person to ski through Timberline Lodge.” (“Milwaukie man claims Timberline ‘first’ ” in The Oregonian. 11 December 1985 D9)

Other members of our family attended the dedication of the Timberline Lodge but my Dad missed out as he was 12 years old at the time and did not make the trip with his mother and sister Mary. Dad was in Astoria, Oregon with my grandpa when the Presidential flag ship USS Augusta crossed the Columbia bar and he watched it pass by and steam up river to Portland. The President then toured a number of Civilian Conservation Corps projects including the showcase Timberline Lodge. President Roosevelt’s speech included the following statement:

“Those who will follow us to Timberline Lodge on their holidays and vacations will represent the enjoyment of new opportunities for play in every season of the year. I mention specially every season of the year because we, as a nation, I think, are coming to realize that the summer is not the only time for play. I look forward to the day when many, many people from this region of the Nation are going to come here for skiing and tobagganing and various other forms of winter sports.”

Timberline Lodge was not quite completed at the time of the dedication and final touches on the lodge interior took another five months before finally opening to the public on February 1938. Ten years later, in 1948, my mother Marie Dolgan just out of college got a job for the summer of 1948 at the Timberline Gift Shop. She even talked to her Uncle Tony about making an offer for the shop business but he disuaded her from going into debt to start a business. Instead, at the end of the summer, she began work as an elementary school teacher in Portland Public Schools. Here are some photos of Mom at Timberline Lodge in 1948. . . and some photos added from the story below.

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I began skiing at Mt. Hood when I was four years old and we enjoyed many family trips throughout the years. When Portland Community College opened my Dad was Physical Education Department Chair and he began the PCC ski program which allowed me as an elementary school student to tag along on the ski trips too as long as he was on the bus. But one time my friend and I returned from the slopes to the bus early and fell asleep in the back of the bus. When my father took at roll then end of the day no one noticed us asleep and he thought we were still on the mountain. So he remained at Mt. Hood while the bus returned to Portland and when we woke up half way back to town we surprised the ski bus who informed us that Dad was still on the mountain. In those pre-cell phone days the only way to reach him was call the lodge and have him paged. He was able to get a ride home by car and boy did we hear about it!

When I was 16 my high school science teacher Jeff Gottfried announced that he was invited to climb Mt. Hood with authors Don and Roberta Lowe and asked if any students wanted to join the climb. I did not hesitate to volunteer since the Lowe’s book 100 Hiking Trails in Oregon was one of my favorites and climbing Mt. Hood was on the bucket list for any Oregonian who likes the outdoors.

We left for the mountain as just a group of four because no other students managed to make it. Don Lowe carried a huge back pack and his large format camera because he was working on a new book which would be called “Mt Hood: Portrait of a Magnificent Mountain.”  I carried my Dad’s old World War II vintage backpack which you can see on page 20 of that book and in slide show above as we climb up the ridge known as the Hog Back.  Jeff ended up with his photo on the cover!

My sister Linda and I made a visit to the lodge in September 2012 to celebrate the 75th anniversary with a beer and fondue at the Ram’s Head Bar. We stopped at the Mt. Hood Cultural Center and Museum in Government Camp on the way  http://www.mthoodmuseum.org/ where my uncle’s K2 10th Mountain Division Monte Belevedere commemorative skis are on display and in another display a backpack just like the one I  took to the summit. The skii’s were made by K2 to remember America’s Ski Troops in WWII, The 10th  Mountain Division. My uncle Stuart Mockford an avid Skier and Mt. Hood Ski Patrol member prior to World War II wanted to be in the 10th Mountain Division but ended by as Captain of a Quartermaster Company in General Jimmy Doolittle’s 12th Air Force in North Africa. Doolittle was famous for his 1942 bombing raid to Japan from aircraft carriers and was subsquently promoted to commanding General of 12th Air Force.  Stuart’s company moved from Africa to Italy as Allied Forces pushed north and place names such as Monte Cassino and Monte Belevdere became known for the fierce battles that took place along the way.

The 10th  Mountain Division commenced combat in Italy on January 28, 1945 in the North Apennine Mountains where Germans had solidified position along a 5 mile area at Monte Belvedere. The Germans had successfully defended three attempts by other divisions  to take Mount Belvedere so it was now the task of the 10th Mountain Division to succeed where others had failed.  The  attack was made first on Riva Ridge at night which would surprised the Germans and set the stage for a bayonet assault on Mount Belvedere. After the first three days of intense combat, the division lost 850 casualties including 195 dead. However the strategic position helped open the way to the Po Valley and was an important victory in the annals of the war.  The K2 Ski company recognized the 10th Mountain Division’s sacrifice and success with the special edition Monte Belevedere skis that Uncle Stuart treasured and he would be delighted to see his skis in the museum.


September 29, 2012 was a beautiful September day at Timberline Lodge and we witnessed another dedication at Mt Hood that morning at the opening of the Wiwnu Wash Mt. Hood Tribal Heritage Center at Multipor – Ski Bowl http://blog.oregonlive.com/terryrichard/2012/09/warm_springs_tribes_celebrate.html#incart_mrt

About Jim Mockford

Author, historian with an interest in maritime history and Asia Pacific cultural exchange. Owner of Kumquat Kids Productions, LLC.
This entry was posted in Pacific Northwest. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Timberline Lodge 75th Anniversary and Mt. Hood memories

  1. Wonderful blog, liked how you tied Mount Hood history to your family history. Good photographs. Thanks for the positive comments on the MTH museum.

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