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by: Jan Tomlinson, The Upper Sandy Guard Station Cabin sits off a trail in the Mount Hood National Forest and may be added to the National Register of Historic Places later this year.

Within the Bull Run watershed and just a short hike off a trail sits a cabin in disrepair - a structure built in 1935 to prevent trespassers from wandering farther into the watershed that supplies Portland its water.


Known as the Upper Sandy Guard Station Cabin, it soon may be added to the National Register of Historic Places, after the Oregon State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation approved its nomination at a Feb. 27 meeting.

'I have faith that its listing, hopefully within a month or two, will give it the prominence that will allow us to move forward in stabilization and ultimately rehabilitation,' said Rick McClure, Heritage Program manager for the Mount Hood National Forest. 'If we don't do stabilization right away, we're going to lose it.'

Cabin construction

Jan Tomlinson, who previously served as a forest archaeologist for the Mount Hood National Forest, researched the cabin for the nomination application. She expected to discover that the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which worked on various projects throughout the area including Timberline Lodge, was the force behind the cabin's construction.

Instead, it was part of work done under the Emergency Relief Appropriations (ERA) Act, which took an older population who didn't qualify for the CCC but had skills and worked for the Forest Service through local welfare boards.

McClure estimated approximately 750 historical buildings in Oregon were built by the CCC, but the lack of ERA buildings means the cabin is unique.

'It's one of the few buildings on Forest Service land in Oregon that we can point to and say it was built by the ERA,' McClure said.

The design - called 'Mountain Cabin' - was meant to be a standard plan and regularly used, but as Tomlinson discovered, construction may have been limited to this one.

'I looked everywhere … but we had never seen it used again,' Tomlinson said.

She cites the labor-intensive construction as a possible reason why no other cabins may have been built. The cabin, approximately 470 square feet in size and built utilizing many materials from the surrounding area, includes unique design elements such as a full rock wall on one side, rounded logs on other walls, multi-light windows and a mortared stone extension on one end.

'It's reminiscent of Timberline Lodge, but a smaller version,' McClure said.

Historical preservation

While a place on the National Register of Historic Places won't necessarily mean the cabin receives special protection or preservation work, several groups hope to restore the building.

'We always had the responsibility to manage it as a historic property,' said Bill Westbrook, of the Zigzag Ranger District. 'We really need to make a solid decision on how it's going to be managed in the future. Even if it doesn't (make the list), it's time to make a decision.'

The Northwest Forest Conservancy placed the cabin at the top of a list of 10 historic buildings it would like to preserve. The second on the list was the Bagby Hot Springs Guard Station, which made the register in 1999 and is expected to be restored in 2013.

A decision on the Upper Sandy Guard Station Cabin is expected later this year by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places in Washington, D.C.

For more information, to see the nomination application or to provide comments or feedback about the cabin and possible restoration, visit www.nwforests.org.