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Steiner Cabin Tours Are Back!

By Peter Murphy

Steiner Cabin Tours Are Back!

Henry Steiner is proof that you can take the man out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the man. His cabins on Mount Hood seem to have come straight out of the German fairy tale world of his roots.
Nestled on Mt. Hood, roughly between Government Camp and Sandy, Oregon, Steiner’s cabins harken back to a time when raw materials came right out of the forest nearby. Described variously as right out of storybook-land or “rustic” Oregon, a half dozen of his 100 or so legendary abodes will come open for a self-guided public tour on the second Saturday of August, August 10, courtesy of the Mt. Hood Cultural Center and Museum. ($50 tickets will go on sale July 1st at 8:00 AM on the Mt. Hood Museum website: www.mthoodmuseum.org. They’re expected to sell out so you should purchase sooner than later if you are interested in going on the tour.)
The German-born Steiner and his family, 14-strong in total, built many of these impressive cabins during the pre-and post-depression years between 1920s to 1940s, even as the Civilian Conservation Corps was involved with design and construction of Timberline Lodge. It was a time when the “can-do” spirit was taking hold in America. The family embraced their work from an “all-in” perspective as loggers, architects, builders, and stone masons. (It’s been said that the Steiner girls didn’t get to play with dolls since they had to help buck logs and scale bark from the Doug Fir timbers.) Working with hand tools, the family built more than simple wooden buildings. They crafted imagery from European myth into pastoral habitations on the forested slopes of the pre-eminent mountainside of the Western Oregon Cascades.
Their cabins are considered to be of the “Oregon Rustic” style, with raw trees hewn into suitable logs for remarkable contours, sustainability and visual appeal. That style is carried throughout the cabins which feature stone fireplaces and split-log furniture.
The construction of the Steiner Cabins was definitely a family affair, with every able body pitching in to fell trees, peel bark, right-size the logs, and put them into place. Their work included turning cedar logs into shingles for the pitched roof abodes. Their style is right out of Steiner’s native German storybooks: the likes of Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood and more – thank you, Brothers Grimm.
Lloyd Musser is the curator for the Museum; he would meet you on the tour. But this year, after 19 years walking the tour, he’ll be sitting at the ticket area and waiting for you to come to him.
To hear him reminisce of the days when he would walk alongside visitors as they marveled at the cabins, “All the people who see these cabins stand in awe,” says Musser, adding, “I can’t believe how many people come to see them. We sell 300 tickets, but we could sell a thousand.”
Today’s Steiner Cabins show how much has changed in a generation on the Mountain. It used to be that cabins like these were left for ruin; now they’re understood to be handcrafted works of art suitable for restoration and more.

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