Our hearts go out to those affected by the devastating wildfires in the Santiam Canyon. As many of you know, I grew up here and attended Cascade High School, not far from the Santiam River where it flows out of the Canyon and into the pastoral farms and fields between the hamlets of Aumsville and Turner. I know many people who lost everything in the fires as many of my classmates lived and worked in that area.

I spent many summers up in the Canyon fishing with my Dad, resulting in my lifelong love of the pursuit. We had a favorite fishing spot just outside of the town of Idanha that was always good for a stringer full of rainbow trout. The season opener each May found us among the towering Doug firs, delicate vine maples, and verdant ferns that lined the river canyon. Many a day was spent jumping off the cliffs at Elkhorn into the clear, cold waters of the Little North Fork with friends during those endless childhood summers. I’m thankful for those memories.

We lost some historical icons in these fires that are irreplaceable.

In June, 1929, Dr. Skiff asked Lord & Schryver to provide a design plan for the resort. Their detailed Landscape Development Plan of Breitenbush Resort tract divided the space into 5 areas. Visit our storymap to learn about Lord & Schryver’s work at the hot springs. Scroll to garden #27.

Lord & Schryver’s plan for Breitenbush Resort and Hot Springs
Breitenbush Hot Springs Hotel

Sadly, reports say the Historic lodge and soaking pools were mostly destroyed in the recent massive wildfires, despite valiant efforts by the firefighters.

Although several buildings were reportedly saved, much of Brietenbush now looks like this.

Another devasting loss of historical value was the Thetford Lodge, the summer home of Charles A. Sprague, someone that Edith and Elizabeth may have known socially.

Charles A. Sprague was the 22nd Governor of Oregon (1939-1943) as well as the longtime editor of the Oregon Statesman Journal.

After his death, Sprague donated the Lodge to Willamette University. When my sister was a recruiter for Willamette’s Atkinson School of Business, she was able to reserve the lodge for several days each year, often on the Thanksgiving Holiday. Once while visiting, I found a signed copy of Chet Atkin’s greatest hits on vinyl inscribed “To Mr. Sprague, thank you for the wonderful accommodations, Chet.” We will always have cherished memories of Thetford Lodge.

My family at Thetford Lodge.
Students, faculty and friends of Willamette University enjoyed Sprague’s beautiful riverside lodge throughout the years.
Sadly, most of the Little North Fork was badly burned in the Beachie Creek fire.

Although we can’t bring back these historical icons of the Santiam Canyon, going forward I hope we make smart decisions about the environmental changes happening right in front of our eyes.

With deepest sympathies for those who have lost,