Last weekend my brother was in town visiting from the East Coast and we braved the rain and headed down to Silver Falls State Park located about an hour and a half south of Portland near the town of Sublimity, Oregon.


Designated as a Recreational Demonstration Area by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935, the park’s main attraction is The Trail of Ten Falls which follows the North and South Fork of Silver Creek as it cascades over ten waterfalls ranging from 27 feet to 178 feet high.  At four of the ten falls, the trail even goes behind the waterfalls giving the hiker a unique and seldom-seen vantage point.


But in addition to the amazing waterfalls that thunder here year round, there is a small gathering of log cabins and other arts & crafts buildings that once comprised the small logging community of Silver Falls City.  The town is long gone, but the cabins remain – with the South Falls Lodge now its centerpiece.


A display inside the lodge reads: “A Legacy of Craftsmanship”

“Design. Materials. Craftsmanship.  The South Falls Lodge is a stunning example of the best of all three.  Built in 1940-41 using local raw materials of hand cut-stone, cedar and peeled fir logs, its construction belies the notion that the Civilian Construction Corps (CCC) labor was unskilled.  The rustic, Adirondack-style structure is a classic example of its kind, yet retains the unique, special character that epitomizes Silver Falls State Park.”


Another display tells the interesting story of the origins of furniture that has been in the lodge since it was built:  “Two Logs, No Warping”

“The lodge furniture you see today – 25 tables, 82 chairs, 11 benches and a large dining room hutch – were made from only two logs of myrtlewood.  At 40 feet long and five feet in diameter, they posed a unique problem.  Although famous for its strength and beauty, myrtlewood warps easily.  Before it can be used, it must be dried and cured.

“Unfortunately, the nearest kiln capable of drying the massive logs was in Michigan.  Oregon State College (now University) saved the day with an experimental kiln that dried the myrtlewood.  The logs weighed 18,000 pounds when they entered the kiln and 10,000 pounds when they came out.  The pieces of furniture it made (which have never warped) have graced the park system ever since.”


The lodge is timber-framed with hand-cut stone walls and board-and-batten gables, the dormers and roof are cedar shingled.




The other buildings in the village include this log cabin (below) which houses The Nature Store featuring locally produced hand-crafted items.



Another building is the CCC Combination Building (below).


A display out front reads:  “Restoring the Past, Building the Future”

“This unusual building was built as a community kitchen in 1936-37 by the workers of the Civilian Construction Corps.  It was repaired and modified in the 1970s, but by 2005 it needed to be completely restored.  Historic preservation experts in log work and masonry joined Oregon Parks staff and the project was completed in 2008.”


If you’re looking for a unique Oregon experience, I would encourage you to spend an afternoon at Silver Falls State Park.  The South Falls Lodge is a great place to gear up for your hike, and an even better place to unwind in front of a warm fire afterwards.  You can pick up a hand-crafted keepsake at the Nature Store, and of course the Trail of Ten Falls is an eye-opening 5 mile hike that will not disappoint.


If you’ve ever been to Silver Falls, I’d love to hear from you – leave a message below and tell me about your experience there!

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