Mona Hyer Waibel
All photos are from the personal collection of Mona Hyer Waibel. Use of them for commercial purposes is prohibited without her permission.
Cascadia has long been a fine place to
visit on summer days, and it’s also been a good community to live in for many
years, though it once had more residents than it does today.
years, there have been several interesting places to visit in Cascadia,
including a health resort, a fine hotel, healing mineral springs, swimming
holes, the Indian cave, beautiful waterfalls and a covered bridge. These all
have made Cascadia an appealing spot to live and
On the way across the Cascade Mountain
Range, early travelers by horseback or wagon needed housing for the night and,
of course, shelter and feed for their horses. It took one day to travel from
Sweet Home to Cascadia, and another long day to reach the popular Mountain
House. The location of the Mountain House changed through the years, but it was
a popular stop for decades for travelers over the
Pass – whether
by horse-drawn wagons or by automobiles.
It was in 1895 that my two grandparents
met. Grandmother Lettie Thompson taught during the school year and in summers
she worked at the Mountain House cooking for travelers. My grandfather, Andrew Jackson Daugherty, was
herding sheep over the pass and stopped at Mountain House for dinner and to
spend the night. He must have been very
smitten with Lettie; they married within the year.
developed, more attractions became available to explore. Stagecoach passengers
came to rest overnight at the Geisendorfer Hotel and drink from the healing
mineral waters. Cascadia became known as a resort where people could visit to
regain their health. My family arrived in
Oregon in 1882 and
soon began taking trips in their wagon to Cascadia soda springs for picnics and
to sample the famous mineral springs. A sign was erected touting the medicinal
value of drinking the smelly water. The sign claimed that stomach ulcers, and
gout in the big toe were all cured with the soda springs
After the South
Santiam highway was
improved to allow automobiles access to Cascadia, thousands of visitors spent
weekends and vacations enjoying the beauty of the resort. They drank from the mineral springs, carrying
away jugs full of the water. A
bottle-capping machine for a time bottled the mineral water, which was sold in
the hotel. Fresh
River trout was a
featured course on the evening dinner menu, along with Cascadia Ranch beefsteak
and mouth-watering pies.
great-grandparents, the John Thompson family, filled their jugs with the mineral
water and took them home to drink and to make their pancakes and breads, too.
Through the years, thousands enjoyed coming to the
Park before it
became a state park for picnics, camping and sampling of the soda water. Our
church, the Evangelical United Brethren, held many Sunday school picnics
Let’s back up a few years. Travelers needed a way to cross the
Cascadia to Central
Wagon Road idea was
first developed by Andrew Wiley, who found the passageway. The
construction began in 1863, and its completion was eagerly anticipated by
citizens. Wagons carrying passengers,
freight wagons and, of course, riders on horseback celebrated the road’s
completion in 1868. What a change it brought to the valley and especially Sweet
Home and Cascadia. It was still quite a long journey to travel across to
communities on the eastern slopes of the
Later, our family rode by wagon many times, visiting some of the family that
settled in the Madras area. It was a rough several nights camping trip,
and meals needed to be prepared on the road. It was not a luxury vacation for
these early settlers.
Travelers were charged a toll to use the
rough wagon road. John Gilliland was the
first tollgate keeper west of the summit.
Jake Nye followed, and son Marvin Nye (Marvie, as he was known) followed
Jake. The first gate was located in Foster, then moved to Wiley Creek out of
Foster; then to Cascadia, and finally to White City, near Cascadia. People resented paying the toll charge and
tried tricking the gate keeper by distraction. Marvin Nye was successful in
developing fire protection service for safety and preservation of our valuable
timber holdings in the Willamette
notice the mural near our Fire Station, of Marvin Nye and the fire
Ernest Billings ran a stagecoach from
Lebanon, into Sweet
Home and then to Cascadia, ending at Soda Springs. There was not much need for
stagecoach travel when most of the settlers had their own wagons. Coaches often
got stuck in the mud more than traveling to their sites, but Ernest Billings
made a good living with this coach.
Many milestones brought change. The
Cascadia Ranger Station, located at the intersection of
20) opened in 1930, with Ranger Roy Blake in charge. The 43 miles of the
Cascadia opened up the whole area for travel.
In 1939, the highway connected the
Valley to eastern
Twenty-three years of efforts by locals
brought about the completion of Cascadia
1941. The park became a popular place to
camp and picnic in the summertime. I remember well going to the park as a child,
with my grandmother, Lettie Sankey. She
would park her big Packard car in the parking lot and then off my brothers and I
would run down the sloped steep path to where the soda water was waiting. There were two tall, rusty, metal pumps that
we could prime and pump to fill the ladle hanging on the side of the pump.
Everyone used the same metal ladle and it
never disappeared. Later, the area was covered with cement and the pumps were
replaced with concrete lids to cover the soda wells. We just moved the lids and
carried our own cups to dip into the fizzy soda water. The minerals stained
areas of the concrete to a yellow rusty look.
We drank deeply and filled our cup over and over until we could hold no
more. Later, a sign was erected that
read “water contaminated and unfit for human consumption.” I have been told the
water is OK, but the state quit letting people drink
Campsites and trails were developed in
the park as well as ball fields. Huge parking areas were available for all the
cars. A cable was placed across the road into the park’s picnic area until the
park was open for the season. But the park was always open for a hike. A popular trail led visitors to tall
waterfalls, cascading cool waters that sprayed hikers. Once in a while, trees
would fall across the path and we had to climb over the
Over the years, campsites have been
installed for overnight stays, along with flush toilets and, eventually,
showers. It was a grand place to spend a
thrifty family vacation, and Cascadia
Park was usually
filled through summer. Picnic tables placed around many scenic spots are often
used by groups and families too. It’s
all still there, but currently the park needs
Another mile-long trail along the banks of
River ended at
the overhang of ancient petroglyphs left from when Indians camped here long ago.
It was not truly a cave, but an actual overhanging ledge that concealed and
protected Indian writings. The markings of Indians hunting and gathering food
were scratched into the wall, as are petroglyph bear tracks. Artifacts have been
found dating back 8,000 years. According to my husband Bob, who has researched
this area, willow leaf points, barbed and notched points, drills, scrapers, and
knives have also been discovered. Our two children said they could hear Indian
drums of children who’d lived there. It
was an interesting family adventure, not a hike to take in rainy seasons, but
great in warm summer months.
Hill Timber owns the land containing the
Indian rock shelter and an agreement has made it available for park explorers.
Hopefully, the Indian
eventually become part of the park.
came to see covered bridges all around the
Valley, which were
built to protect bridge timbers from elements so they lasted many years. Hardy
visitors actually jumped from the Short
Bridge into the
swimming holes below. Don’t try that
today – the water is mostly shallow. There are nice places to swim, though
– just follow
the trails along the river side.
In the early
Park was in
peril. A proposed dam was planned for
approximately two miles east of Foster.
Its prime purpose would be flood control and added recreational benefits.
Much of the state park would have been lost, as Highway 20 would be partially
under water. The Corps of Engineers didn’t plan to hold public hearings on the
matter. Not good, thought many locals!
In 1971 President Nixon endorsed the project – he hoped citizens would
support the rock-fill dam.
Amos Horner feared his Cascadia Lumber
Company mill would need to be moved. Employees were concerned for their jobs.
Storms of protest came from Linn
and eventually the Cascadia Dam project died.
Back in town,
School, built in
1940, had two elementary classrooms, a gymnasium and kitchen. Students went to
Sweet Home for high school. There was no bus service in the beginning and many
students stayed in Sweet Home through the week and rode in with the newspaper
carrier on Monday mornings. Adella Gabriel was
Cascadia postmistress on Cascadia
Drive, and no one
in her family drove or owned a car. If the newspaper man didn’t take them to
town, the Gabriels didn’t have fresh groceries. Two of the Gabriel boys, Bill
and Gerry stayed in town at the Bryant-Hyer homestead all week to attend
According to Jean Horner Burger,
School was a
school child’s whole world. During her early years there, 120 students were
enrolled, in two classes combined in one room; four rooms for eight years of
students. Later, after the completion of
Green Peter Dam, the school shrunk to about 60 children.
The long drive in winter conditions was
difficult for teachers and not many teachers applied, even though Cascadia was
the richest district in the local area. They had the finest gym, a trampoline,
parallel bars and fine principals teaching.
Gil Little was principal for several years, with
Don Hopkins serving as the final principal. In 1965 the school district unified,
and eventually Cascadia
because of a decrease in students. Jean then went to Foster school, where Sam
Cairnes was principal. Other students remaining locally who attended Cascadia
include Jim and Larry Gourley, Mike Rice, Bob Pinster, Betty Stokes, Freida
Noah, and Lynn Totman.
The unused school building became a
rehabilitation site for Indians needing help with alcohol consumption – the
isolation contributed to patients’ treatment.
Sweat lodges built from fresh-peeled logs housed unusual activities.
Several times we Waibels were invited to join an
Indian feast, bonfires, of corn roasting over coals, with spicy sausages on
sticks. Indian chants with drums were entertaining. Today, the remodeled old
school building has an attachment, the Cascadia U.S. Post
Amos Horner, mentioned above, was a
creative, unforgettable man. In the beginning of his career, he welded together
a portable sawmill, hauling it into the forests. His business kept growing as the demand for
more lumber increased. He once paid
workers in silver dollars and watched them flow into our community; another time
it was $2 bills. The cash registers of stores, the churches’ collection plates,
the taverns etc. all felt the impact of what Horner’s mill provided in
salaries. During 1970’s gasoline
shortage, Amos bought a gas station to ensure his workers had fuel. The TOMCO
mill, (the name stood for “Try Once More Company”), worked well for years. Later, Triple T Studs in Cascadia provided
many jobs as the Stock family, with Mike Horner, kept the Cascadia mill
going. Triple T Studs (“Try the Third
Time”) sadly closed in August 2006.
Both Amos and Dorma Horner died in 2000. Amos
made many contributions to Cascadia and the Sweet Home
During the 1960’s and ’70’s, Cascadia
changed, becoming our own Greenwich
Village. Non-traditional residents were attracted to
the beautiful private areas, especially
Creek Road. Unusual buildings were constructed, not by
building code but by being hidden. Geodesic homes and solar energy buildings
were sprinkled along undeveloped roads. These groups of new citizens were
“green” before the term was known. One local gent grew an interesting crop in
old school buses buried under the ground.
A police raid found a sophisticated operation, with grow lights,
electricity, and fans circulating air to the
Yes, Cascadia survived many changes and it
has continued to be an extraordinary place to live and visit.
My name is Stephenie Flora.
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