November 11, 2020 / Comments (21)

130 Years of Ingenuity on Mount Hood


Not long after the first pioneers found their way to the Cascade Range, they started dreaming up ways to climb – and ski – Mount Hood. It’s a rich tradition of ingenuity that continues to this day. This timeline should give you an appreciation for the rich history associated with Oregon’s tallest mountain.

700,000 BC: Volcanic eruptions form the Cascade Range and the mountain called Wy’East by the Klickitat people.

1792 AD: Mount Hood is named after British Admiral Samuel Hood, who never set foot on the mountain.

1889: Cloud Cap Inn opens on the north side of Mount Hood.

1890: The Langille brothers ski the north face of Mount Hood to Cloud Cap Inn.

1894: 100 people climb Mount Hood together and form the alpine club Mazamas.

1899: Oliver Yocum builds the first hotel in Government Camp.

1903: Three Mazamas shred Hood wearing 10-foot wooden skis and carrying nine-foot balancing poles.

1905: Tourists visiting Portland for the Lewis and Clark Exhibit sign up for $5 guided tours to the peak of Mount Hood.

1914: First solo car trip up to Government Camp.

1915: Climbers build a fire lookout at the mountain’s peak.

1926: Plan to connect Cooper Spur to the summit with a cable tramway are rejected.

1926: State begins plowing Highway 26 regularly in winter.

1927: Snow clubs form on Mount Hood.

1928: Summit opens as first ski resort on Mount Hood.

1928: The Mutorpor ski jumping hill makes its debut.

1931: Andre Roch, Hjalmar Hvam and Arne Stene summit on skis.

1933: Fire lookout at the peak is torn down.

1935: Works Progress Administration announces plan to build Timberline Lodge.

1936: Timberline foreman Ira Davidson invents the modern Snow Cat.

1937: FDR travels to Oregon for the dedication of Timberline Lodge.

1937: Russ McJury and Joe Leuthold (pictured below, photo courtesy of Daniel Becker) complete the first ascent of the Sandy Glacier Headwall.



1937: Hjalmar Hvam invents the modern ski binding after injuring himself on Mount Hood.

1938: The Timberline Trail is completed.

1939: Magic Mile opens, the first chairlift on Mount Hood and the longest ski lift in North America at the time.

1939: Olympic Trials take place on Mount Hood.

1942-1945: Skiers and climbers from Mount Hood and other mountains train and serve with distinction with the 10th Mountain Division.

1946: Women are  allowed into the Mt. Hood Ski Patrol.

1947: Ty Kearney climbs to the summit with bike parts, assembles them and rides the peak.


1947: Ski-Way Tram developed to connect Government Camp and Timberline.

1949: Multorpor Lodge is completed.

1951: Ski-Way Tram completed connecting Government Camp to Timberline.

1953: Criticized as unreliable, expensive and slow, the Ski-Way Tram closes after just two years of operations; investors eat losses.

1955: Timberline Lodge gets its power shut off for failure to pay the bills.

1957: A 29-year-old social worker from New York, Richard L. Kohnstamm,  rescues Timberline from bankruptcy, forms RLK Inc. and takes over Timberline’s Forest Service Lease.

1958: Helicopter piloted by W.C. Hartley lands on Mount Hood summit.

1961: Tram towers are removed from the mountainside.

1962: Mount Hood National Forest visitors top 3 million.

1964: SkiBowl and Multorpor merge.

1966: Forest Service grants permit for a major new Mount Hood resort to Franklin Drake of Portland.

1966: SkiBowl installs lights for night skiing.

1968: Mt. Hood Meadows opens.

1976: The population of Metro Portland hits 1 million.

1977: Timber companies harvest 500 million board feet of timber from Mount Hood National Forest, at the height of the industry.

1978: Palmer Lift opens, launching the summer training industry on Mount Hood.

1981: Film and TV director Boris Sagal (The Twilight Zone) steps out of a helicopter at Timberline Lodge and is killed by the rotor blades.

1984: Sandy Union High School graduate and Mount Hood racer Bill Johnson wins the first U.S.  Olympic gold in the men’s downhill.

1986: Alan Pennington and John Smolich, climbers who helped save Silcox Hut, die in an avalanche on K2.

1986: Difficult search and rescue process leads to the development of the Mount Hood Mountain Locator Unit.

1987: Kirk Hanna, son of Oregon car wash king Daniel Hanna, buys SkiBowl out of bankruptcy.

1988: Snowboarding champ Craig Windell buys the run-down Shamrock Hotel on Highway 26 and starts Windell’s Camp, training programs for hot young snowboarders and freeskiers.

1992: Jeff Kohnstamm takes leadership of RLK at Timberline.

2004: Dan Howitt climbs from Timberline to Summit in 1:57 with his dog Caddis.

2006: Matthew Drake takes over as president of Meadows.

2007: Timberline builds the Jefferson Flood chairlift.

2010: Freeski star Sammy Carlson lands the first triple rodeo at a jump built at Timberline.

2012: Meadows installs an advanced rfid lift pass and tracking system.

2013: Ski Patrol celebrates its 75th anniversary.

2016: Olympic downhill gold medalist Bill Johnson dies in Gresham. Skibowl later changes the name of its classic Dogleg run to Bill’s Gold.

2018: Scientists discover significant fault lines on the north and south flanks of Mount Hood, capable of producing a massive 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

2020: COVID-19 health concerns prompt all three major Mount Hood resorts to close for the season. Timberline pioneers a strategy to hold resort skiing safely during a pandemic, with no major outbreaks during the busy summer season.


The Oregonian

On Mount Hood, by Jon Bell

Mount Hood: A Complete History, by Jack Grauer

Timberline Lodge: A Love Story, edited by Jon Tullis

Mt. Hood Cultural Center and Museum

Mt. Hood Ski Patrol



Mt. Hood Meadows

Last modified: November 11, 2020

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130 Years of Ingenuity on Mount Hood

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