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History of the Monument

The Oregon Caves Historic District

Before this land officially became a National Monument in 1909, the idea of having a hotel and resort at the cave entrance was taking form.The first permanent building constructed here was the Chalet in 1924, the building which now houses the Visitor Center, but this is not the Chalet as we see it today. The 3rd floor and archway were added when it was rebuilt in 1942. The upper two floors of the Chalet now serve as a dormitory for seasonal guides.

Following the Chalet, several rustic cabins were built in 1926 just up slope from where one passes through the Chalet archway. The cabins were for visitors, but later in 1935, the cabins served as summer ranger residences. All but the one cabin have since been removed due to problems with plumbing leaking into the cave. The last cabin now serves as the resource management office for the National Monument.In 1929 plans were announced by Grants Pass builder, Gust Lium to construct the majestic Chateau (lodge).

Caves honor our past and are among the last areas we can explore with the same rugged individualism, technology, and communal sharing of pioneers.

“Everything seemed to be leading me to the cave.” Elijah Davidson, 1922, written about his experience in 1874.

The cultural history of Oregon Caves National Monument evolves around the cave’s discovery, exploration, stewardship and the resulting national historic structures that surround the caves.

Examining this heritage provides levels of experience so that each of us can have our expectations and limits challenged and our curiosity, respect, and compassion increased. As a result, our estrangement from nature is reduced and a special place is made from a space.

Among the best ideas ever, our National Parks and Monuments define us as individuals, a species, a community, and a nation.

The Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2009.

Oregon is privileged to be the home of three outstanding Northwest Lodges serving guests from all around the world. These Lodges are at the Oregon Caves, Crater Lake, and Timberline on Mt. Hood.  These facilities are the only three publicly owned, historic lodges of Oregon that provide overnight accommodations.

Nestled high in the forested splendor of the Siskiyou Mountains, generations of visitors have enjoyed the unique assets and breath taking geological wonders. The Monument offers, one of a kind, family focused opportunities to explore marble caves, stay overnight and enjoy casual and gourmet meals at a National Historic Landmark, the Oregon Caves Chateau, and hike trails through ancient forests.

The Majestic Beauty of the Pacific Northwest and the rustic period of Great Lodge construction come together at the Chateau at the Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve.  Built in 1934, the Chateau at Oregon Caves National Monument celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2009. It is a rustic hotel in the Siskiyou Mountains located adjacent to the entrance to The Oregon Caves, the only active limestone formation in Oregon. Designed to be constructed in a marble canyon, this 23-room lodge retains its original charm and houses an historic collection of Monterey Furniture.

The Chateau is part of a larger development that includes several employee and rental cottages, and a visitor contact station, and a chalet which is employed as a dormitory, a gift shop, and for multiple other uses structure. These buildings are all under consideration for National Register status as part of an historic district. The buildings were all constructed between 1923 and 1941; the Chateau is, without question, the most outstanding of the structures.

The Friends of the Oregon Caves and Chateau, was formed in 2008 in cooperation with the National Park Service to preserve, protect and improve the cultural and natural resources of the monument.  The first major project the Friends will undertake is to restore the Oregon Caves Chateau.