Early in the 1900’s Sherman County wheat farmers escaped the dry summer heat by migrating to the riverbanks of the Metolius River to fish and camp in the cool river environment. To help guide fellow farmers to the spot, devotees nailed a shoe-box top with the name Camp Sherman to a tree at a fork in the road. And so began what is believed to be the 1st tourist destination in Central Oregon!
The 80 acres of land, purchased by Martin and Lena Hansen in 1923 at the price of $10.00 per acre, was originally named Martin Hansen’s Metolius River Resort. Martin and his family began building the Lodge in 1924. He also built several small housekeeping cabins and thus began his commercial enterprise. The cabins were equipped with fuel, mattress and springs, stove utensils, dishes, table, dresser and chairs. They were also equipped with one electric light that was strung to the cabins from the main Lodge. It is said that when Martin went to bed so did everybody else as he turned off the switch and all on the property went dark. At this time the cabins rented for $1.75 a day and you could board your horse for an additional 75 cents. They served meals in the lodge for 60 cents on weekdays and 75 cents for holidays and Sundays. During the Hansen ownership they built the pond and diverted Lake Creek into it for the swimming and fishing hole. There was also a sheep-pasture golf course across the road ~ surely the first golf course in Central Oregon!
Martin Hansen’s Metolius River Resort remained in constant operation until it was sold to Mrs. Bertha Ronalds of the Lorillard Tobacco family in 1935. At this time Mrs. Ronalds tore down the old lodge and began construction of the new lodge, which still stands today. It was at this time the resort was renamed Lake Creek Lodge. Mrs. Ronalds lived primarily in France so she hired Bud and Roblay McMullin to run the resort in her absence. Mrs. Ronalds soon tired of the “resort business” and gifted the property in 1937 to the McMullins, who continued to run the resort and upgrade the cabins for the next 37 years. Bud McMullin, a robust man with a chiseled physique, was noted for his bare-chested barbeques every Sunday at the Lodge. Bud passed away in 1955. Roblay, a diminutive lady with a powerful presence, continued operating the resort until she sold the property in 1974. When she sold she retained a life estate in her cabin and continued living on the property until she passed away in 1998 at the age of 91.
Margaret Lumpkin, Velda Brust and Lisa Taubman, “the Ladies from OSU”, were the primary owners and operators of the resort from 1974 until they sold it in 2003 to Gordon Jones, the current owner. During much of this time the Ladies also owned and operated Camp Tamarack, a girls’ camp nearby that featured swimming, horseback riding and a good dose of mentoring from these three extraordinary women. They were educators, published authors, world travelers, and compassionate and caring women. They made many of the improvements to the facilities, including cabin foundations, improved insulation, heat and year round operation. All three of these women have now passed away, but their legacy at Lake Creek Lodge is still very much alive.
Gordon Jones is working to see that Lake Creek Lodge continues its long and proud history of providing families with wonderful vacations, unforgettable friendships and treasured memories that they can pass down to their children and grandchildren. The pond is gone now, replaced by a natural meander in the stream that will provide better habitat for the migrating fish that we are all hoping will soon return to Lake Creek and the Metolius River. Gordon has continued to make upgrades on the property and to the cabins with a respect for the past that characterizes his decisions. In the fall of 2008 the new one acre Pond was completed. Each year, the pond is stocked with hundreds of rainbow trout. Now kids, big and small, can revisit the golden days of past as they sit by the pond on a warm summer day, toss their fishing lines into the waters and exclaim to the world that “the fish was this big”!