Mt. Hood Oregon Lodging
The Birth of a Mountain
Long before humans inhabited the area, the Cascade mountains (including beautiful Mt. Hood) thrust themselves through the earth’s crust. During the peak of the volcanic activity, mountains stood several thousand feet higher than today. During the subsequent ice ages, natural erosion occurred and sculpted Mt. Hood, Oregon into its present familiar form. Mt. Hood’s stern majesty inspired the first Southward migrating native American Indians to name it Wy’East, the mighty warrior.
According to Indian legend, two brothers, Wy’East and Pahto, were in love with the same beautiful native woman. The brothers grew jealous of each other and began a fearsome battle, stomping the ground and hurling rocks and molten lava at one another. The Great Spirit came down and rebuked the brothers for the terrible damage caused by their fighting. As a symbol of renewed amity between the two, the Great Spirit erected a Bridge of the Gods over the great river that separated them. On the bridge he placed a faithful old woman named Loo Wit to guard it and keep the peace between Wy’East and Pahto.
Soon the brothers were fighting again, and the Bridge of the Gods fell into the mighty river. As punishment, the Great Spirit turned Wy’East into Mt. Hood and Pahto into Mt. Adams. The beautiful native woman hid her face at the feet of Pahto and became Squaw Mountain. Loo Wit, for her service to the Great Spirit, became the beautiful, but distant, Mt. St. Helens.
The Age of the Explorers
The first white explorers to lay eyes on Mt. Hood were British seamen under the command of St. William Broughton in 1792. As part of an expedition sent by Lord Vancouver, Broughton voyaged up the Columbia River from the Pacific. Passing the confluence of the Willamette River, he sighted the peak that he would name after Lord Samuel Hood of the British Royal Navy.
The first American explorers to view Mt. Hood’s slopes were Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in 1805. Lewis and Clark were traveling West toward the Pacific Ocean. Early American pioneers named the striking mountain Mt. Washington and called the Cascades the Presidential Range. These names failed to stick and Broughton’s earlier appellation remains today.
The Oregon Trail and the Pioneers
As more Americans moved westward into Oregon, Mt. Hood became a beacon of hope and a symbol of the impending finish of a long arduous journey, with the fertile Willamette Valley just beyond.
The Oregon Trail first passed north of Mt. Hood along the Columbia River, and then a trail to the south was blazed by Sam Barlow and Joel Palmer. This was the Barlow Road, a toll road operated by Barlow and others from 1846 – 1919. This route passed within a mile of The Resort at The Mountain’s present front doors, and historians believe that a spur of the Barlow Road ran right through resort property.
The First Resort – “Welches”
In 1882 Samuel Welch and his son Billy purchased 320 acres along the Salmon River, where The Resort now lies. Nearby, native Americans from many tribes picked huckleberries and hunted deer and elk during the summers. The Welches continued to acquire land in the area until they owned roughly 1,000 acres. In 1893 father and son began the first resort, which was a campground for travelers and vacationers. In 1898 Samuel died and Billy inherited the entire property.
In 1902 Billy leased a parcel of land to two businessmen who built a two-story hotel. This building, known today as “Old Welches Inn Bed & Breakfast,” still resembles how it looked then and can be seen across Welches Road from The Resort’s golf course.
In 1909, the two businessmen sold the hotel to Billy, who ran it until 1917. His establishment’s hospitality became well known and people spent summer vacations with Billy and his wife, Jenny. Soon a small community sprang up around the hotel and was called, appropriately, Welches.
In 1928, two golfing enthusiasts – Ralph Shattuck and George Waale leased Billy’s hayfield and built a nine-hole golf course, making Welches the first golf resort in Oregon. It was The Mt. Hood Golf Course and allowed golfers to play in an unusually picturesque natural atmosphere. In 1939 the golf course reverted back to Billy and he continued to operate the resort until his death in 1942.
Billy’s wife sold the property and it was run by several parties until 1948 when Eugene Bowman acquired it. Eugene and his wife Peggy owned Bowman’s for the next 30 years, adding an additional nine holes of golf, a pool, a sauna, condominiums, and more guest suites. Bowman’s resort was situated on the east side of the present day resort. The tradition of hospitality begun by the Welches was continued on by the Bowmans and enticed not only golfers but also food lovers as well.
Rippling River Resort
In 1973 American Guaranty Financial Corporation purchased land across Welches Road from Bowman’s and built a lodge, a conference facility, a restaurant, more rental units and a third nine hole golf course. In 1979 it purchased Bowman’s Resort, merging the two properties and naming it Rippling River Resort.
The Resort at The Mountain
Ed and Janice Hopper bought the resort in 1989 and transformed it into The Resort at The Mountain. With their remodeling efforts came the Scottish theme and tradition. With The Resort’s recent sale in December, 2007 begins its latest chapter in its lodging legacy.