Trout Lake Newswriters
Sandi Thygesen, 395-2318
Pat Arnold, 395-2233
Bonnie Reynolds, 395-2527
Laurie West, 395-9330
Since this is the centennial year for the U.S. Forest Service, it's noteworthy that one of the oldest remaining ranger stations from the early days of the agency is right here in our own back yard. Gotchen Creek Guard Station, built in 1909, when Gifford Pinchot was Chief of the Forest Service, is 20 minutes north of Trout Lake, on the south side of Mt. Adams. This past Sunday a group of nine volunteers finished up the first phase of restoration work on the old ranger cabin. The volunteers were part of the national Passport in Time program which provides "hands-on" heritage projects on national forest lands across the country. Volunteers came from Camas, Washougal, Vancouver, and Portland. Forest Service archaeologists Cheryl Mack and Rick McClure supervised the project. Help was also provided by the fire crew from Mt. Adams Ranger Station and the Northwest Service Academy's AmeriCorps Youth Corps.
The Gotchen Creek station was strategically sited on the principal sheep driveway entering the national forest from the east side. At the time, sheep grazing was a primary use of the forest in summertime. When the Forest Service began regulating grazing activity, the ranger station was necessary for administration. Early rangers included Harry DeVoe, from Glenwood, who built the cabin, and Harvey Lickel. Lickel used the cabin as summer headquarters of the Mt. Adams District until a station was built at Guler, now Trout Lake, in 1917. In the early days, over 150,000 sheep passed by the station each summer, on their way to designated allotment areas. The last sheep grazing on the Forest was in the Twin Buttes Allotment, which was closed out in the 1980s.
The Passport in Time restoration project was successful in making needed repairs to the cabin, rebuilding the 1930s cattle exclusion fence, and clearing hazard trees from around the building. According the District Ranger Nancy Ryke, the Forest Service is considering adding the cabin to their popular historic cabin rental program. Public demand for overnight use of Peterson Prairie Guard Station and Government Mineral Springs Guard Station, currently in the rental program, has been high. Converting the cabins to public use has been a successful effort at preservation.