This is a guest post by Megan Shuemate, Director of The History Museum of Hood River County.
Mount Hood pumps the life blood into Hood River County. We climb to its peak, ski down its slopes, and snow shoe across its ridges. We hike to its remote lakes, ride horses along its streams, and mountain bike up its rugged paths. We drink from its springs, fish in its streams, and enjoy whitewater rafting and kayaking in its rivers. At The History Museum of Hood River County, we are sharing the history of recreation in our beautiful county through the limited engagement exhibition, Outdoor Recreation: the Heart of Hood River County. Within its various stations, visitors learn about how our many hiking trails were formed, who created the first wind surfing board, and what to pack when hiking.
Recreational sports have been around since the dawn of man. There were cycles throughout history where different kinds of recreational activities were met with approval over other types. In our part of the United States, from the mid-nineteenth century through the early twentieth century, the public recreation movement began. This was characterized by the widespread development of organized recreation activities, and through the creation of national, state, and municipal parks.1
Our own Mount Hood National Forest was at one time just a slice of land in the Oregon Territory, and I doubt our first pioneer settlers were thinking about founding cities that would turn into recreational Mecca’s 100 years later. Visitors to Hood River County can view the paths that many took while traveling west along the Oregon Trail. These historical paths were turned into designated hiking trails through the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) programs that President Franklin D. Roosevelt began. It was through the WPA that Timberline Lodge came to be built in the 1930’s and through the CCC that many of the trails we use today were mapped and cleared.
Looking toward the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, we see a different slice of history. When Lewis and Clark were surveying the newly purchased Oregon Territory, they saw a much different Columbia Gorge than we see today. The building of the Bonneville and The Dalles Dam’s changed the landscape of the Columbia forever with the silencing of Celilo Falls and the flooding of Koberg Beach. One was a loss to the culture of the Celilo Village, while the other was a loss to those who enjoyed the recreational possibilities of Koberg and its many buildings.
If this snippet of history on Hood River County and the Columbia River interested you, stop on over to the History Museum of Hood River County and learn more about our colorful history. The History Museum of Hood River County is located at 300 E Port Marina Drive, Hood River and is open Monday-Saturday from 11am-4pm. Admission is $5 for non-members and free for children 10 and younger and Museum members.
1 McLean, Daniel and Amy Hurd. Kraus’ Recreation and Leisure in Modern Society. Jones & Bartlett Learning, LLC, Sudbury, MA. 2012