Multnomah Falls Lodge

With multiple fires burning across the Pacific Northwest, we focus today on Edgefield’s historic neighbor to the east that is under extreme threat. As of this writing, the iconic Multnomah Falls Lodge has not sustained any fire damage, according to Portland’s KGW:

“Firefighters protected the lodge overnight, while building managers cleared out old paintings and other historical pieces. Five ladder trucks sprayed foam on the building and doused the surrounding area in water.

“Portland Fire & Rescue Lt. Damon Simmons said protecting the lodge is a top priority.

‘It’s pretty surreal to see that area on fire,’ he said. ‘You see fire above and working its way through those area where those beautiful falls are, and it’s pretty heartbreaking. But I know that our crews worked hard to protect the lodge.’”

In this clip from KPTV, Chuck Rollins (a former History Pub speaker and local historian) talks to a reporter at the temporary shelter at Mount Hood Community College, giving big credit to the first responders and firefighters.

Here’s the history of one of the state’s top tourist destination, excerpted from Oregon.state.gov:

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As Oregon’s most celebrated waterfall, Multnomah Falls attracts nearly two million visitors from around the world every year. The adjacent Multnomah Falls Lodge adds architectural and historic interest to the site. …

Formed by the cataclysmic Missoula Floods beginning 15,000 years ago and fed mainly by underground springs, Multnomah Falls drops 635 feet in two major tiers down basalt cliffs. It ranks as the tallest waterfall in Oregon and is one of the most visited tourism sites in the state.

Much of the development around the falls began after Portland lumber baron Simon Benson deeded 300 acres of land around the falls to the City of Portland for a park.

He also funded the 1914 construction of the graceful 45-foot Benson Bridge, a footbridge that crosses the falls over 100 feet above the lower pool.

In 1925, the city commissioned accomplished Portland architect, A. E. Doyle, to design Multnomah Falls Lodge near the base of the falls. Doyle built the lodge for $40,000 in the Cascadian style using timber and every type of rock found in the Gorge. Originally the lodge had dormitories and four rooms for overnight stays but the lodging is now a distant memory. Several significant remodels and additions have occurred over the decades. The building now offers tourists a restaurant, interpretive center, gift shop, restrooms and other services.

The U.S. Forest Service gained final ownership of the site and lodge in 1943 and currently contracts for visitor services.

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