Great Lodges of the National Parks
Pacific Northwest: Oregon Caves
Caves are wonderful, mysterious places. So naturally, the Cave and Chateau have some interesting secrets to reveal. Explore a few of the true facts, and laughable legends, here.
Built entirely by hand, each piece of early Monterey furniture is branded with a horseshoe trademark. The furniture was especially popular during the California Spanish revival period, and owners included Will Rogers, Walt Disney and Gene Autry. Many of the finest pieces now in existence are found at the Chateau, including some with hand-painted wild flowers and desert scenes.
Flood & Mud
Harry Christiansen, Chateau manager, and his assistant, Bob Hines, survived the 1936 catastrophe. Christiansen later recalled: "I suddenly said to Bob: 'What's that noise?' And he looked at me and his eyes popped open, and he said: 'I don't know what it is, but run!' He went scrambling up the stairway to his apartment and I ran down the driveway. All I can remember of that at the moment is a big log chasing me. I later made firewood out of that log; it was 48 inches in diameter."
Popcorn and Moonmilk
Two types of cave rocks have very specific uses. Popcorn is a bumpy formation that can be used as a compass, just as hikers use moss on the north side of trees to find their way. Moonmilk has the texture of cottage cheese. In the old days, people used moonmilk crystals to cure ailing livestock. It turns out that moonmilk is created by a type of bacteria also used to make modern antibiotics.
Elijah and the Bear
In 1874, Elijah Davidson went hunting with two dogs and a muzzle-loading musket. He wounded a bear and his dogs ran in pursuit, barking and baying. Suddenly all was silent. He tracked the bear to a dark hole in the earth. Using some pitch-wood as a torch, he tracked bear and dogs 155 feet into the Cave. He shot the bear, took the hide and meat, and didn't return to the Caves for 2 years.
A Woman Scorned
Legend has it that shortly after the lodge was built, a man on his honeymoon was caught in flagrante with the maid. His wife, Elizabeth, slit her wrists and died in the bathtub. Rumors allege that if someone sleeps in 'her' room (suite 309-310), she'll spend the night pacing the hallway. Guests and employees continue to report eerie sounds, cold spots, and unexplained happenings.
A Really Big Guest?
In a story carried by the Associated Press in July 2000, an Oregon psychologist, Matthew Johnson, reported a Bigfoot sighting in the Oregon Caves National Monument. He was hiking with family members who also reported hearing and smelling something, but only Johnson claims to have seen the creature. "I'm 6-foot-9. I'm 280 pounds. Size 16 feet," said Johnson, "This thing made me look small."
Throughout the Oregon Caves district, visitors see beautiful masonry walls, steps and ponds. These are the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a Depression-era government project to employ young men. The CCC had a camp about 8 miles west of the Caves, and provided manpower for Park Service landscaping projects. The stone they used is limestone and marble taken from Cave rubble.
What is Siskiyou?
The Caves are set in the Siskiyou Mountains, but the origins of the word siskiyou are uncertain. One theory says it is Chinook jargon for a "bob-tailed horse." Another source says it's a Native American word meaning "moving mountains." And still another version claims the word derives from the French words six callieux (six-stones) referring to a river crossing of such stones.