The History of Thunderbird Lodge
Note: The following excerpt is from the September 1943 edition of The Chemeketan written by George Flake. You can read more memories and history of the Thunderbird Lodge in the “Snapshots From the Past” section of the December 2020 Chemeketan Bulletin.
From the very beginning of the club, there was an urge on the part of some members for a lodge or mountain retreat of some sort. In the fall of 1929, the late Joseph Alberts offered to give the club a building site near Taylor’s Grove on the Little North Fork of the Santiam. The offer was considered but involved the building of a bridge which made it out of the question.
The next proposition to be considered was in 1932 when Dr. Laban Steeves offered to lease or sell the club his place on the Breitenbush River about two miles below Breitenbush Hot Springs. The Steeves cottage was leased for the year 1933 and some use was made of the facility but at the expiration of the lease, the council voted against exercising its option of renewing same.
After the expiration of the Steeves lease, little was heard of a cabin for a while, but after a year or two, negotiations were entered with the Kenneth Randalls for a tract near Elkhorn. However nothing came of this proposal. Then there was some talk of buying the old Mazama Lodge at the foot of Laurel Hill on the Mt. Hood Loop Highway, but most of the members did not favor this since they wanted to locate in the Mt. Jefferson area rather than Mt. Hood.
Then it happened that a rained-out party of hikers returning from a Labor Day weekend trip to Jefferson Park in September 1937 spent a night at Howard Grimm’s cabin on Whitewater Creek. Mr. Grimm soon afterwards made an offer to sell the property to the club and his proposition was accepted! And such was the history of the acquiring of our cabin to which most of the club’s members have become very much attached.
Watch this space for updates regarding any decisions the club may take regarding the future of the Thunderbird Lodge property. At the October 2020 Executive Council meeting, a committee was formed to consider options and contact the US Forest Service. Please do not attempt to access the property at this time.
UPDATE (May 6, 2021): The cabin committee met with USFS ranger Penny Keen at the cabin site on April 30th. She relayed the following information:
1. USFS will be conducting removal of damaged trees from the site over the next couple of months. When completed we will be able to safely perform cleanup activities.
2. The Chemeketans are responsible for removal of cabin debris. There may be assistance available from entities such as Marion County.
3. USFS may end some leases in the Willamette National Forest, particularly with private entities. Public organizations such as the Chemeketans may be able to continue. More information should be available by September.
4. We will not be able rebuild on the same location due to increased flash flood danger near Whitewater Creek. USFS will assess the site for any new building location.
Cabin committee members are Shonee Langford, Gregory Adelman, Conor Foley and Bill Wylie.