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Welches Cabin Returns to Family After 50+ Years

By Adrian Knowler

Welches Cabin Returns to Family After 50+ Years

Sue Ellen White has fond childhood memories of her time spent in the old growth forest around the Welches, Oregon cabin that her grandparents built during the Great Depression as an escape from city life in Portland.

Completed in 1931, the cabin is located near the Salmon River and sits on two and a half forested acres that White would explore as a child. The home served as a base for her grandparents when they’d hike up with seal skins on their skis and take a few laps near what is today the Timberline Lodge Ski Resort.

White’s parents sold the cabin in the 1960s, when she was a college student. She said she didn’t think much about the sale at the time, but as she grew older and had a family of her own, she regretted the decision and missed family time spent in the home.

On trips up to Mount Hood, White would often drive by the cabin, and was saddened to see it falling into disrepair, suffering from a case of what she calls “blue tarp syndrome.”

She put the address into real estate website Zillow in order to be notified if it went up for sale, and in 2021 White got the email she was waiting for. White and her husband John Goertzel purchased the cabin and got to work restoring and renovating.

“It was full of junk, junk every where,” she said of the state in which they found the cabin in an interview. “Tarps, paint cans, it was pretty much a wreck.”

While cleaning the house, White found pencil drawings on the walls that seemed familiar. Upon closer inspection, she saw that the art was signed – with her own name! Drawings she had made 70 years earlier still survived, and White said the discovery almost transported her back in time, filling her with nostalgic memories of getaways past.

“This was a message from the universe that I, and my future descendants, were meant to be back here,” she said.

After a couple of years of work on the house, the cabin, now dubbed Cedar Camp, is renovated with new amenities and appliances including a propane fireplace and will soon have a hot tub. A tour of the cabin leaves the feeling of a wonderful balance between rustic charm and modern comfort. The home can accommodate seven guests and features a covered front porch and a heated shed for ski gear storage. The walls are adorned with photos of White’s family, posters, and historic images of the Mount Hood National Forest.

White is amazed she has gotten the opportunity to return the cabin to her family, which includes three kids and four grandchildren. “It’s a very rare opportunity to do this,” she said. “I’m feeling extremely grateful and so I just want to pass this on to the next generations.”

White’s daughter, Ariel Hansen, and her own child have been up to the cabin several times and pitched in with renovation work.

Hansen said she had always heard tales of the cabin from her mom, and thinks the time there was formative in her mother’s work as an environmental activist who was part of a group that saved old growth trees on Whidbey Island from deforestation in the 1970s.

She hopes that time spent at Cedar Camp may impact her own child’s perspective on nature and time spent outdoors.

The family has decided to rent out the home during periods when they aren’t staying there. White said that renting it out will offset the costs of purchasing, renovating, and maintaining the property.

To ensure that the home stays in the family, White has placed it in a trust, preventing future sales.

Hansen said that she is glad that other families will be able to form new memories in the rental, and hopes that some may be returning many times as part of their trips to Mount Hood.

Although she will be tasked with the responsibility of maintaining the cabin in the future, Hansen said that taking care of the family home is well worth it.

“It’s an honor to steward Cedar Camp as part of my family’s legacy,” she said.

Cedar Camp is available to rent at linktr.ee/cedarcamp.

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