Falls Lodge ca. 1920
Falls Lodge January 16, 2005
here for more recent and historic photos of the Multnomah
Falls Lodge and antique postcards of the Multnomah Falls
When the Historic Columbia River Highway
opened in the Multnomah Falls section in 1915, it attracted
concessionaires who catered to motorist's needs. In addition,
some amenities were available at the nearby OWRN station
house. Yet many early HCRH motorists wanted more. They were
accustomed to having Sunday dinners of chicken, rabbit,
or salmon at several places along the highway. These included
Chanticleer Inn, Crown Point Chalet, Latourell Falls Chalet
and its successor, Falls Villa, Bridal Veil Lodge, and Forrest
Hall. Some even kept a few rooms for road weary travelers.
So, in 1925 the city of Portland commissioned local architect
A. E. Doyle to design a structure. Doyle had already completed
several structures in Portland, including, the Multnomah
County Central Public Library, the Meier and Frank Department
Store, the U.S. National Bank Buildings and the Benson Hotel.
He created a 2-1/2 story rustic masonry lodge for a site
below the falls and near the highway. The firm of Waale-Shattuck
constructed it for $40,000.
The lodge exterior was in the "Cascadian"
style, using native split fieldstone laid irregularly and
varying in shades from black and gray to brown and red.
Its encounter English's form includes a steeply pitched
cedar-shingled gable roof with dormers and massive chimneys.
It was completed in 1925, and provided both meals and lodging
for travelers. By 1927, the building was enlarged, and in
the next 65 years has undergone several remodeling, both
inside and out, but still retains its original charm and
character. Since World War II, it has provided meals ranging
from simple snacks to elegant dining, and houses a gift
shop: public restrooms and an interpretive center. The lodge
is by no means "rustic" in the same sense as Civilian
Conservation corps and Works Progress Administration buildings
constructed in the gorge in the 1930s. Instead it has a
sense of restrained elegance that catered to wealthy Portlanders
who ventured out of the city in their motor cars to "rough
it" the country
The lodge marks the beginning of the
footpath that takes travelers to the Multnomah Falls Footbridge,
to the top of the falls, and eventually another 6 miles
to the top of Larch Mountain. The area between the lodge
and the footbridge, along with adjoining stone walks, benches,
and interpretive displays, has been remade and remodeled
continually since the 1920s. Beginning in the late 1980s,
Multnomah Falls Scenic Area came under the jurisdiction
of the newly organized Columbia River Gorge National Scenic
Area, with planning strategies for its future coordinated
with similar U.S. Forest Service activities at other sites
in the gorge.
Excerpted from Historic
American Engineering Record, Multnomah Falls Footbridge
(Benson Footbridge), HAER 0R-OR-36-I.
Historian: Robert W. Hadlow, Phd., September
Transmitted by: Lisa M. Pfueller, September, 1996.
Falls Lodge Website