In 1986, Congress passed an act that created the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, designed to protect the natural, scenic and cultural resources of the gorge. The mission statement within the act called for a Washington State lodge and meeting center to be built – Skamania Lodge.
Located on 175 wooded acres overlooking the Columbia River Gorge and Cascade Mountains, construction began July 16, 1991. A true public-private partnership involving four primary parties, The Columbia River Gorge Commission, The USDA Forest Service, Skamania County and Grayco Resources, Inc., The Lodge opened its doors on February 26, 1993.
The Washington State lodge was designed to be reminiscent of the great lodges of early 1900's, which had charm and appeal, and contained all modern guest conveniences. Thus, the design of the four-story Cascadian style lodge, with high-pitched roofs, interesting uses of timbers, wood paneling and native stone came to fruition. Black wrought iron was used for artistic highlights and comfortable furnishings remind you of days gone by.
Some of the large timber columns in the Gorge Room are 100 years old. They came from a BumbleBee cannery in Astoria, Oregon, that was being dismantled. The architects and designers wanted large timber that looked rustic. The recycled timbers fit the need. They extend above the Gorge Room (Great Room) into the Hood River Suite, which is on the fourth floor.
The Gorge Room floor is Southern Longleaf Pine, recycled from a 150-200 year old building in Georgia. A hardwood suitable for heavy use, it was selected because it provided wide boards instead of the typical residential-width wood flooring.
The Hood River resort lobby floor is Montana slate. This particular slate was chosen for the color, which compliments the rock of the fireplace.
The lobby and Gorge Room surround an 85-foot tall fireplace. This fireplace was made with andesite rock, excavated from an abandoned quarry a few miles from the site. The estimated weight of this fireplace is 500,000 pounds.
Original local artwork, ceramics and petroglyph rubbings depicting Native American history of the Columbia River Gorge handsomely decorate the lodge as well. A narrated CD and brochure of the Washington State lodge's artwork are available to borrow at the front desk and provide a very nice walking tour.