11 September 2008

Timberline Lodge: headache and treasure

It’s not a routine thing to awaken in the wee hours of the morning -- 2:30ish or so, to behold Mount Hood awash in the white light of the moon. Not much these last days, however, has seemed routine. And, I’m reminded of a song: There’s no such thing as an ordinary day. (Anybody know its vintage and/or the identity of the artist?)

Our morning was taken up with two presentations, one by a US Forest Service employee whose primary task is to administer the special use permit for the operation of the lodge and the other by the historian charged with cataloguing the lodge’s vast collection (of art, furniture, weavings, wrought iron and the like). As in all times and places, controversy abounds where Timberline Lodge is concerned, from the proposed new temporary structure for winter access to the lodge (for years a Quonset hut has been moved into place before the first snows of the year) to the fact that the lodge was ever built in the first place.

Free time here at Mount Hood is at a premium for our group. I did, however, haul out the tripod just after lunch and focus awhile on some of the treasured collection -- here wall decoration/woodwork/wrought iron hinge in the Barlow Room and at the end of this post the signature Timberline Lodge rectangular arch (which has a name I cannot remember), appearing on chair backs and in wrought iron on the bedsteads.

Being here is anything but routine; I am constantly aware of how fortunate I am. Part of the overall controversy hinges on that very fact; government money (CCC and WPA) went into providing for an exclusive leisure sport for the upper class. What a testament this place is, though, to the dream of Emerson Griffith, head of the WPA in Oregon, who turned the building of the lodge into a broad-based project involving thousands, and the technical and artistic expertise of the craftsmen provided work during a dreadful time in US history and whose talents were given a time and a place for expression.

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