On Timberline Lodge

Timberline Lodge Logo - Winged Goose

I worked at TL as Indoor Maintenance Man from May 1975 to January or February 1976.

Swimming Pool Story #1

The circulation pump for the swimming pool failed just before I arrived for my first On-Duty shift. The pool would have to be drained if the pump was off for more than 24 (?) hours, because it ran the water through the charcoal filter and past the chlorinator.

Charlie Lake and I removed the pump for repair and took it to the shop. Luckily we found a set of bearings on the shelf in the shop to replace the burnt out ones in the motor. By 3 AM we were back under the pool with the rebuilt motor. One problem: We didn't note which wires went to which terminals. (Being a 3-phase motor, if you reverse any two wires, the motor will reverse direction.) The wires had no memory either, so we took our chances with just a couple hours to spare. Sure enough, morning came and we found out that we'd back-flushed the filter into the pool. It had to be drained anyway!

Swimming Pool Story #2

The swimming pool was heated by steam from the boiler room. Water was pumped (see story #1) through the giant filter and past the chlorinator, then through a "heat exchanger" consisting of 100 (?) feet of copper tubing surrounded by the steam piped from the boiler room. (I have a 35mm slide of the exchanger.)

Unfortunately, the freshly-injected chlorine took its toll on the copper, eating a hole through it, allowing water from the pool to travel via the steam pipe all the way east, into the belly of a boiler, which dutifully regurgitated it along with the iron-rich guk that builds from boiling volcano water. The iron water travelled back to the pool and mixed with the chlorine in the pool to form an lovely iron chloride precipitate about ⅛ inch thick over the pool walls.

I arrived at work to find half the crew in the drained pool scrubbing with various implements. We determined that phosphoric acid worked the best, so we spent I don't know how long scrubbing with that stuff to try to save the pool walls. Next time I came to work, they had given up, repainted the pool, and modified the plumbing too! (Chlorinated after the heat exchanger.)

(In September 2022, The pool was closed. I noticed that a later version of the heating and chlorinating system was sitting outside the pool as junk, while they were evidently installing a new system!)

The Meaning of the word "Maintenance"

Working in Maintenance was never dull. One day you might fix the big toaster in the kitchen, do a small wiring or plumbing project somewhere in the lodge, replace a fan belt in the attic, or retrieve a wedding ring from a sink trap in a guest room.

Walter taught me the true meaning of maintenance - I complained that some of the spotlights were not illuminating the WPA paintings on the mezzanine. So I got the job of going way up a ladder to change bulbs. In one case, the bulb didn't do it - the transformer was shot, so I had to take the 20 pound fixture to the shop to repair it, then re-install. (In September 2022, I noticed those light fixtures were gone, replaced by small lights mounted just above the paintings.. not at all as good, in my opinion.)

I didn't learn my lesson! I complained that the coin-op dryer wasn't tumbling - so I got the job of fixing that. It was then I realized that we were the maintenance department! From then on I washed my clothes for free because I figured out how to bypass the coin-op circuit. Anyway, Zack Lorts & I agreed that after one summer doing maintenance work at the lodge, there wasn't anything we couldn't fix.

An old Polaroid™ photo

Timberline Lodge Front Desk - Polaroid shot taken by film crew

This old Polaroid shot was taken by a film crew on location, sometime in 1975. That's me on the right, behind the desk. The director or some such person is on the left. That's a waitress in the middle, obscuring Denny Rockwell who was on the desk, as night auditor. I was on duty, and had been called up to set a fire in the main fireplace for the film crew.

A crew member took the photo as part of their process, seeing what fit in the frame I guess. They were grateful for the fire I built... Since they didn't need the particular photo, they gave it to me! I have no idea what the movie/film project was. I think the photo was staged, with me and the waitress added. Normally, I was not behind the desk like that.

Also note, this was when the hotel desk was in the main lobby, on the main level. Not long ago it was moved down to the ground level. (Some time after 2000? Anyone know?)

I loved to set, light, and tend the fire in the evening. I would go to the swimming pool, where the firewood was delivered and kept below the deck. I'd chop kindling, and then carry a big armload of firewood UP two floors and down a long hall to the main lobby. I used my "sure fire" formula, which I had perfected down at the cabin on the Zig Zig River. What an honor! The huge iron poker was made by a WPA craftsmen. (I should find his name.)

Other Stories

The creamery, domestic water supply, steam valves, oil preheater, blowing a circuit breaker, the Hot Water Tank circulation loop, Rosebud, Being On-Duty, Charlie Lake, ... see page of hand-written notes. Will add these as time permits!

Fondest memories - playing tuba with Walter Aeppli (chief of maintenance) and Dieter Nachman (mater dieter). See [TUBA].

Looking Back

It was an honor and a peak experience for me to chop fire wood (under the swimming pool), carry an armload up to the main fireplace, set and light the evening fire, take down the flags at sunset, and lock the doors for the night. In the morning, I put the flags back out and looked over the hundreds of square miles of forest stretching out around me. What a fantastic place to have worked!


Timberline Lodge on Wikipedia

Timberline Lodge website