A Snowy Walk Back in Time

          On November 8, 2005, Seneca School students in grades 3 through 8 kicked off the fifth year of the Seneca History Project with a tour of the Bear Valley Lodge.  The Edward Hines Lumber Co. built the lodge in 1944 to serve as a boarding house for single male employees. 

The students gathered in the large lobby, walls paneled with pine milled in Seneca and the floor pocked by cork boots.  After reviewing the building’s history, they divided into three groups to tour the upstairs, the main floor, and the basement.  Some of the many rooms remain as they were when last in use, with single bed frames inside and room numbers still on the door frames.  Some are in various stages of renovation.  One wing has been lovingly remodeled by the current owner, Jeannie Griffith, and her former husband.  In the basement, students saw the remains of the old heating system which utilized steam piped across the Silvies River from the railroad shops.  They crowded into the room where loggers once changed their work clothes before going upstairs to their rooms.

Students would like to hear from anyone who once lived in the Bear Valley Lodge, as there are many unanswered questions about life there.  Please call Seneca School at 542-2542 if you are interested in sharing your memories with the students.

The students also expressed a desire for someone to buy the lodge and continue the restoration work to preserve this historic remnant of Seneca’s past.  It is currently offered for sale through Century 21 Realty.

Following the tour of the old boarding house, the third and fourth grade class, accompanied by upper-grade students new to the school, walked through six inches of newly-fallen snow to tour other sites significant to Seneca’s history.  The first stop was where the business district once stood, just south of the hotel.  After the disastrous fire of 1981, nothing is left of the building which once housed the mercantile, post office, restaurant, tavern, barber shop, Coconut Grove meeting room, gas station, and the Olive Theatre. 

Looking east, students visualized the “cheese box” houses and boxcar houses that once lined the logging road to Logan Valley .  Stopping next at the pasture just south of the junction of Highway 395 and the Shirttail Creek Road , the students imagined the famed Seneca Loggers out there on the former baseball field after another victory.  After crossing the Silvies River , the group stopped at the junction of the main railroad grade that once carried logs from Bear Valley to the mill in Hines.  They looked up the snowy slope of Cat Test Hill, where mechanics once drove the cats straight up the hill to test them before returning them to the woods. 

Walking on, the next stop was the concrete slab where the huge railroad shops once stood.  Remains of track that carried the engines into the shops can still be seen, but little else.  Just east of the shops site is the location of the company swimming pool, which was heated with steam from the steam plant.  The students stood in the snow at the bottom of the deep end, where some of the blue-painted concrete is still visible. 

The students then headed back to their school, which is yet another, and still vibrant, part of Seneca’s colorful past, having been built in 1932 by the Hines Lumber Co. 


Basement of the Lodge where repairs are being made to the building’s heating system.

One of the bathrooms for the bachelor employees, the Lodges' original residents. The new owners are extensively modernizing all bathroom facilities to suit their bed and breakfast operation. The early residents will no longer recognize the "facilities" they once used daily.

Everything, even each room's closet, is being refurbished. Notice the quality of the wood, which shouldn't come as a surprise, after all, this building (while old) was built by a company that specialized in the manufacture and sale of fine lumber.

Here you can see the effect the logger's "calked" boots have on wooden floors.


The current owners plan to leave one room in its original furnished condition as a mini Bear Valley Lodge museum.


This field is part of the ball field where the famed Seneca Loggers once played.



Initial remodeling efforts in the lobby.

Partial view of kitchen reremodeling in progress.

Andy Radinovich once lived in Room 224 where his granddaughter stands.


Partial view of a remodeled room. Remember, these rooms were built for one man so they are quite small. Looks like this room was occupied by a guest with a small baby.

Same room, different view. Whernever possible, the original wood is being retained, thus the "use" marks on the door's frame at left.

Some of the rooms have connecting doors. Originally, the individual rooms did not have "facilities", so the sink you see above is a feature added by the new owners.