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Sitting at the 6,000 ft. level on the Northeast side at the Timber line, Cloud Cap Inn basks below the summit of Mt. Hood. This view shows the Front Entrance. Today, the trees are a little thicker in front of the Inn.

In the spring of 1889, William Ladd, a prominent Portland banker, and Colonel C. E. S. Wood announced that they had bought the road going up the Northern Slopes of Mt. Hood and organized the Mount Hood Stage Company. They had plans for a Hotel that was to be named Cloud Cap Inn.

Ladd and Wood started to make improvements to the road near the town of Mt. Hood which is about 15 miles above Hood River. They hired Chinese laborers to dig and fill the grades of the road all the way to the timberline level. Just below Cloud Cap Inn there is a spot with a 22 percent grade on a curve over a small ravine that was named “China Fill” which proved to be very challenging to early motorists. The grade was so steep that the stages would usually have to change horses at the Livery Stable, which was mile below Cloud Cap.

A Forest Camp was established and work on the old lodge began, with its heavy log walls, thick cedar shake roof and two mammoth fireplaces of stone. Cables were fastened to buried foundations to keep the structure from blowing off the ridge. Water was piped in 1200 feet from Tilly Jane Creek.

After the kitchen was complete, and the baths and beds were installed, Cloud Cap Inn officially opened for business on August 3, 1889. After several bad winters, the forest service no longer allowed the Inn to operate in the winter after 1894. It is not uncommom for Cloud Cap to see 60 feet of snow in the winter.

The trip to Cloud Cap Inn usually started with a 40-mile train ride from Portland to Hood River. The horse-drawn Cloud Cap Stage took passengers from Hood River to Cloud Cap where they arrived five and a half hours later after a stop for lunch and several horse changes at livery stables along the way. In 1906, the Mt. Hood Railroad was built, taking passengers 15 and a half miles to Dee. In 1910, it was extended to Parkdale for a 22-mile trip. The first auto drove up to Cloud Cap in 1907.

 

Cables which were used to tie down Cloud Cap in the winter from the fierce winds are visible in this view of Cloud Cap’s western side. The Chimney on the left blew down in 1919, as the Inn sustained a great deal of damage. The observation deck, which came off in later years is also shown in this view. The Inn looks very similar today. The back door is currently to the right of the windows on the left. There is a door by the chimney in the middle, but it remains closed.

 

This western view also shows the cabins that were built in front of the Inn. The tie down anchors for the cabins are still in place.

 

In 1891, Sarah Langille, (pictured above), with the help of her sons Will and Doug, began managing Cloud Cap Inn. Both of her sons were prominent Mountain Guides. A telephone line was installed in 1894 when telephone service connected Cloud Cap with the world. Mrs. Langille ran the Inn for 16 years, leaving in 1907. The interior looks virtually the same 100 years later.

Operating in Spring and Summer only, Cloud Cap operated until the outbreak of World War II. A new road was built in 1926 to smooth out or avoid some of the more challenging stretches of the stage road. The building was sold in 1942 to the Forest Service for $2,000. It operated briefly in 1946, the last time as a hotel. Hunters and vandals took their toll as did the weather as the doors were allowed to remain open to the storms of winter.  The Forest Service considered tearing it down in 1950.

In 1954, the Hood River Crag Rats Mountaineering Group offered to fix it up and maintain it if they were given a permit to use Cloud Cap as a base for their snow survey program and mountain rescue. It is only accessible via a 14-mile gravel road by the Cooper Spur Junction. 

Mt. Hood

Battle Axe Inn

Last updated 10-26-16

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