News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Historical Society hosts events

Folks in Sisters can touch a bit of the area’s history through events hosted by the Three Sisters Historical Society (TSHS).

The group offers a tour of the Camp Polk Cemetery in celebration of National Historic Preservation Month on Saturday, May 14, at 2 p.m. The tour will be headed by Jan Hodgers, who has nine ancestors buried in this cemetery that holds so much of the history of Sisters. The group will conclude the tour with the dedication of the new Cobb headstone, one of the earliest families that settled in the Sisters area. All are welcome, no reservations needed. Meet at the entrance of the Cemetery at 69875 Camp Polk Road. For more information contact Jan Hodgers at 541-788-0274.

The next Fireside Evening will be Tuesday, May 17, featuring a presentation about the history, restoration, and future of the historic Santiam Pass Ski Lodge.

A beautiful, rustic structure built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1939-40, the lodge is located 20 miles west of Sisters.

The lodge is one of six unique structures built by the CCC in the Pacific Northwest during the era.

Its seven-foot-high rock foundation and a 40-foot-high chimney were crafted from stones quarried locally from Hogg Rock.

The lumber used to build the lodge was hand hewn from surrounding trees.

It is truly one of Oregon’s historic gems, representing a significant period in U.S. history and a unique architecture.

Accommodating up to 60 guests within its dormitories, the lodge was built in response to growing public demand for recreational facilities. Between the years of 1940 to 1986, it served initially as an overnight lodge for outdoor enthusiasts such as skiers, hikers, and backpackers, as a travelers rest stop, and later for camps and church retreats. The structure sat empty for three decades, with harsh elements and vandals taking their toll.

In 2003, the B&B Complex Fires devastated the area. As evidence of the importance the lodge holds to the community, with enormous effort firefighters saved the lodge and the immediately surrounding trees.

The lodge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Dwight and Susan Sheets, who had been visitors to the Lodge since the 1970s, were newly retired teachers and empty nesters, and had relocated recently back to Oregon. After a tour and seeing the state of this special place, they decided something needed to be done to restore it.

In May of 2018, they signed a Special Use Permit with the U.S. Forest Service, Willamette National Forest, to restore and operate the lodge. They established the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization Friends of Santiam Pass Ski Lodge, founded for the primary purposes of promoting, fundraising, and managing the restoration construction, and transitioning into maintaining and managing the restored lodge.

The organization’s goal is to restore the lodge to its historical look and feel and to serve as a community-oriented multipurpose facility. This project was designed to address the needs of travelers, historical preservation, recreation, education, and community. The lodge and nearby trails are an excellent educational setting for learning the history of the lodge, the CCC, and the Santiam Pass area. It will be a meetings-and-events venue, providing indoor and outdoor facilities with a small café, lounge, and restrooms open to the public.

The narrated video presentation will touch on many more details of this unique lodge’s history from inception, build, usage, challenges, restoration, reopening and future.

The event starts at 7 p.m. at FivePine Conference Center, with doors opening at 6 p.m. General admission is $10, with tickets available onsite. The evening is free to TSHS members and all are welcome to join. For more information call the Three Sisters Historical Society at 541-549-1403.

Camp Polk Meadow Preserve and Cemetery Tours are set for Sunday, May 22; Wednesday, May 25; and Tuesday, May 31, all from 1 to 3 p.m.

Continuing the celebration of National Historic Preservation Month, the Three Sisters Historical Society is collaborating with the Deschutes Land Trust in giving these tours, which will combine both locations and share details on their colorful history, as well as perspectives on why they are relevant and important today. Tours are free, but space is limited to 10 guests, so reservations are necessary. For information on meeting location and to sign up, call Jan Hodgers at 541-788-0274.


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