Nesika Project History
(Published Summer 1997)
The beginnings of the Nesika project can be traced back to the original purchase of the land and the later sale of a portion of that land that raised the capital that allowed us to even consider the project. The first activity that was a physical part of the “rebuilding of Nesika” was the rebuilding of Multnomah Basin Road in 1982. This allowed a new generation of Trails Clubbers to bring modern equipment to Nesika to rebuild Our Lodge in a form that was imagined by only a few, but created by many. This is the story of the realization of that dream.
For many years the Nesika Lodge property had been loved by many, but used and maintained by only a few. The buildings were in disrepair and access by road was nearly impossible. The original Nesika Futures committee was formed to decide the long term fate of the property. An informal survey of the membership in 1979 indicated that the majority of the membership wanted to improve the road and repair or replace the lodge.
In 1984 the Nesika Futures committee was dissolved and the Nesika Planning committee was formed for the purpose of planning exactly how to rebuild the Nesika property. After much discussion and agonizing, the Nesika Planning Committee determined that the original log lodge was too far gone to repair. Logs nearly half way up the building were showing serious signs of rot. The entire floor structure was rotted to the point where plywood had to be overlaid to keep people from stepping through the floor. There was also a significant problem with rodents throughout the entire building.
However, in order to rebuild the lodge, we needed a building to use for a kitchen and dining room during the construction. The natural choice was to use Redwing for this purpose. So we we considered how we would need to improve Redwing to serve.
Redwing, like the lodge had served well for many years. It had some serious structural problems and needed to be enlarged to serve as our “mess hall”. After considering several creative, crazy, and dangerous approaches it was determined that the simplest approach was to raze the building, and rebuild it. The board approved this in 1987 and plans were quickly drawn up for a simple, but roomy new Redwing. Redwing was razed and rebuilt in 1988.
The reconstruction of the new lodge was officially started in November of 1987 at the Trails Club annual meeting. The membership overwhelmingly approved the plan to rebuild the lodge and a budget of $140,000 was established, $50,000 to be raised by donations to a building fund. Shortly after the Nesika Planning committee was disbanded and the Nesika Building committee was formed for the purpose of building a new lodge at Nesika.
Our original design for the new lodge was a heavy timber structure with structural panels for walls. We estimated that the new lodge could be built in three years using that design. The Columbia Gorge commission did not like this design because it was too modern and asked us to rebuild another log cabin. The final design of the lodge is a compromise that incorporates logs and modern construction methods. It has taken a bit longer than three years, but is much more beautiful than the original design.
The rebuilding of the lodge began in 1989 with the razing of the old log lodge. The first parts of the new lodge were put in place in 1990 (and buried). Work then continued for a total eight years to the dedication in September of 1997. At this point the new lodge was nearly complete inside, complete on the front outside, and still had to have the “modern” bathrooms finished.
We expect to finish the loose ends in 1998, but history may prove us wrong.
Major lodge Events 1987 – 1997
1987 – The year of planning
1987 was the year that the overall plan for the site was done. It was determined that the lodge would have to be replaced and that the best improvement plan for Redwing was to rebuild it from the ground up. The lodge replacement project was approved by the membership at the annual meeting.
- Redwing reconstruction is planned.
- Overall site plans and Initial lodge plans are drafted by Doug Winn.
1988 – The year of Redwing
1988 was the year we rebuilt Redwing. We held the famous “Nesika Block party” where we moved concrete block from Portland to Nesika nearly around the clock, complete with card games by lantern light in the parking lot between trips. The bulk of Redwing was built during a special work week in July that took the building from footings to roofing in 10 days.
All night “Block Party” moves blocks to Nesika.
Redwing interior stripped (waiting for a building permit).
Redwing dismantled and the site is cleared.
Redwing Footings dug and poured.
- July 1988 Redwing rebuild “in a week”
Friday – staging set, materials placed.
Sat, Sun – Block foundation laid with the help of George Milne’s masons.
Sun, Mon – Wall grouted solid, mud sills set.
Tue – Friday – Floor, Wall and roof framing done.
Sat, Sun – roof sheathed, roofing started.
Old Redwing barn board siding installed.
Exterior spray painted (White, then Red)
Fern’s tree is cut down.
Vinyl floor installed in Redwing.
Bunks set up for Halloween.
- John Riley builds two-part stretch trailer.
- John Riley rebuilds “King” tractor donated by Ray Ellis.
1989 – Last year for the old Lodge
1989 was the year we dismantled the old lodge and cleaned up the site. Originally there were thoughts of reusing parts of the old lodge, for sentimental reasons, in the new building. However, the old lodge was so filled with rot, rodents, and insects that we decided to dispose of everything. nearly all of the materials were burned on site in some of the biggest bonfires ever seen at Nesika.
- Redwing put into use a temporary lodge.
Kitchen moved to Redwing.
- Old Nesika lodge dismantled.
Lodge dismantled, logs rolled down the hill.
Debris burned, floor burned, night of the Pyromaniacs.
Logs burned, the BIG bonfire.
Old chimney pulled down.
Final site clean-up done.
- John Riley builds the dump trailer.
1990 – The year of Mud
In 1990 the first parts of our new lodge, the footings and foundations were put in. All the excavation was done with our JD750 tractor and a small track-hoe. 170 yards of soil was removed and dumped over the bank in front of the lodge. The combination of springs in the bank behind the site and typical Oregon weather made this a very muddy project. The year was crowned by pouring the footing for the retaining wall. 42 yards of concrete were hand mixed and placed in 1-1/2 days.
- May – August
Footing excavation done. 80 yards moved in wheelbarrows.
Building footings poured, stem walls laid.
Wall footing steel set
- October –
Wall footing poured – 42 yards in 1-1/2 days.
Lodge stem walls completed.
Starter course of wall placed.
Initial wall drain system placed.
1991 – The year of the Wall
1991 “The Wall” was built. Multnomah county required us to build a six foot retaining wall behind the new lodge. This took most of a year. We still had high hopes and proceeded with the masonry wall for the lodge finishing by working in the snow in November.
The year was made more exciting by the Multnomah Falls Fire. While the fire was closer than we would have liked, Nesika was never in danger, but it canceled one work trip for us.
- May – August
Retaining wall built and partially faced with stone.
Lodge masonry walls built (to initial level).
- October – Multnomah Falls fire. No work trip!
- November – Finish grouting walls – in the snow.
– Removed “tree 3” from the tractor trail.
1992 – The year of Waiting
In 1992 the project got hung up in the realities of engineering and building the log roof for the new lodge. The initial bids for the log portion of our lodge were all too high to consider. This led to some redesign in cooperation with the log builders to simplify the roof design. In the mean time we did what we could including laying several tons of stone on the retaining wall.
Leveled floor with crushed rock.
Poured woodshed floor, Laid stone
Poured floor in the lodge
- Aug, September, Oct
Completed stone facing on retaining wall.
- November – cleaned up.
1993 – The year of the roof
In 1993 the design for the roof was finalized and a contractor (A Place in the Sun Log Homes) was selected. Logs for the structure were donated by TCO member Bob Hilands. The new design eliminated the logs from the walls and required us to raise the masonry wall four feet. The roof structure was placed by the contractor, with the support of TCO members, in the month of August 1993.
- March – Cleared downed trees on tractor trail.
Repaired road below Peterson creek.
Repaired Multnomah creek bridge approach.
Dropped a tree that almost hit the lodge.
Moved in more block, laid stone.
Build path lights & new ramp step on dorm.
Walls raised another 4 feet.
Grouted new walls.
Brought in 45’ test log.
Moved the drinking fountain.
- August Work Weeks
Roof system Framing & Decking done by contractor.
Tree is slab milled.
Kitchen chimney is built.
Fireplace chimney is built
Roof insulation applied
Comp roofing applied
Interior walls framed
1994 The year of the Fireplace
Much of 1994 was spent finishing the fireplace structure. The work was slow due to the amount of detail work and the height of much of the work. However, the result was worth it. This year also saw the wood floor installed in the lodge and the first social event in the new lodge on Halloween.
- May, June
Interior floor framing.
Fireplace Chimney faced above roof.
Electrical conduit installed.
Fireplace cap poured.
- August, September, October
Fireplace stonework – front, back
Mantle cut and set.
First fire in the new fireplace.
- October 1994
First Halloween in new lodge.
1995 The year of unbelievable optimism.
1995 was the first year we really thought we would get moved into the new lodge. We started off by ordering the Kitchen cabinets, that we actually believed we would be ready to install this year. But continued work on the fireplace stone and illness of or Chief mason George Milne slowed us down more that we ever imagined.
- April, May, June
Fireplace stonework completed.
Bathroom, water heater floor slabs poured.
Kitchen Cabinets arrive.
New gate at Palmer Mill Rd. installed (by USFS).
Kitchen Stove backing installed.
- August, September, October
Interior insulation & plywood installed.
New electrical feed installed.
New water line installed.
Kitchen cabinets laid out (for looks)
Family Weekend, Labor Day, & Halloween held.
1996 The year of interior work.
1996 started out with a reminder that Mother Nature Rules. The winter of 1995 – 96 had some of the heaviest rains in years including those that caused the “Flood of 96” in much of the northwest. This caused some major damage to our road at Peterson and Multnomah creeks. April was used to fix the road so we could even drive to the lodge.
The year was spent finishing the interior walls with Cedar donated by Bob Hilands. Outside the front stonework was installed and the all important septic system was installed.
Road damage survey
Road repair – Peterson Creek, Multnomah creek
- May – August
interior cedar walls
- June – August
New water heater stove delivered by Burk & Burk.
Set middle kitchen cabinets
Septic system dug.
Septic system finished – rock chute day.
Septic system inspected and backfilled.
Halloween held at lodge
1997 – The year of dedication
In 1997 we completed the last items needed to dedicate the lodge. With the septic system in the previous fall, all we had to do was get the plumbing in and finish the Kitchen. We had hopes of getting the interior of the main part of the lodge complete, but did not get the floor down.
Once again Mother nature reminded us of her power. Heavy rains once again damaged the road and a ice storm shredded the trees in the basin. Special work trips were needed to clear the debris from the road.
Road cleared of trees and deadfall from Palmer Mill Rd. to the parking lot on 2 special work days.
- April – September – Front stonework completed.
Last doors installed (rest rooms)
All interior walls get first finish coat.
Kitchen Range hearth laid.
Plumbing & electrical work.
Slab for water heater poured.
Stove and Fireplace hearth laid.
Supply plumbing completed, new water heater installed.
More electrical work
Interior wall get second finish coat.
Additional Stone work at wildcat work trip.
Kitchen Plumbing completed.
Kitchen counters set, Counter tops started.
Front porch footing set.
Kitchen counter tops completed, sinks installed.
Front porch planks cut and placed.
George & Sylvia cook the last meal in Redwing
Kitchen Range moved into new Lodge.
- August – Kitchen floor laid at special work trip.
- September – First Cook Jan & Merrill Hugo for Labor Day party.
First Work Trip cook Linda Conrad.
Interior trim installed.
Redwing set up for a Dorm.
Front stone completed
Clean-up for dedication.
Final lighting installed at special work trip.
September 27, 1997 Nesika Lodge Dedication
Over 530 different people have contributed time to this project since work started on the new lodge in 1989.
These people have made over 2000 “trips” to Nesika to participate in official work trips.