The Hood River Glacier, Hood River, OR., June 23, 1921, page 1

Many Inspect New Tourist Hotel
Event Marks Beginning of a New Era in Oregon's Entertainment of Motor Visitors

     Saturday marked the beginning of a new era in Hood River. The Columbia Gorge Hotel, setting a new pace for tourist hostelries in Oregon, was opened with a public reception and henceforth the gem of mid-Columbia Cascade fruit districts, known through world marts for the perfection of its apples, will gain new fame for its ability to entertain the motor tourists lured to the state by scenic boulevards that penetrate a scenic fairyland.
     Despite inclement weather and a downpour of rain in Portland that prevented many from motoring over the Columbia River Highway, the new hostelry was the goal for hundreds of Portlanders and a constant stream of Hood River city residents and orchardists called to inspect the new building and participate in the reception. It was truly an open house function, and doors were wide from basement to attic. The public was invited to inspect the hostelry throughout, from the big kitchen, equipped and manned as elaborately as any metropolitan hotel of the land, to the lookout tower that rises a score of feet above the red tiles roofing the main three story structure. And the public accepted the invitation, came, saw and went away singing the praises of S. Benson, an ex-chairman of the State Highway Commission, who financed the resort, and Henry Thiele, former chef of the Hotel Benson in Portland, who is managing the place. The lavishness of furnishings, in dining room, reception halls and bedrooms, all substantial and attractive and bearing evidence of expensiveness, brought gasps of wonderment. All tourist accommodations comparatively remote from Portland are but improvisations in the light of the new Columbia Gorge Hotel.
     Mr. Benson welcomed in person the guests at the reception. No one resent appeared happier than he, unless perhaps it was Mr. Thiele as he presided over a kitchen, fitted, as he says, in full accord with his dream of past years. The big dining room, occupying the center of the first floor, was cleared for dancing. The center of the floor was banked with superb bouquets, sent by Portland clubs and merchants and local folk. A huge bouquet was presented by the Commercial Club and Mayor Scobee and Councilman Kier and their wives accompanied a beautiful basket of flowers to tender to Mr. Benson and Mr. T. Leet official congratulations and greetings. Dancing had been planned in about the dining room and a large basement ball room, but workmen were unable to complete the latter for the occasion. Plans also called for a program with speeches by Mayor Baker, of Portland, Governor Olcott, mayors Colby and other prominent citizens. The former to a notable, however, were unable to attend and this feature was omitted. The governor and Portland mayor, however, and other prominent folk of the Northwest wired messages of congratulations.
     Mr. Theile declares it his aim to make the cuisine of the new hostelry especially noted. In the estimation of the reception guetst, who were regaled with a sumptuous buffet luncheon, set on tables of the front pergola entrance, he made an excellent beginning.
     Scores of the Portland reception guests remained over for the night. They were followed Saturday night by additional scores among them a large delegation of the Kiwanis Club. The initial dinner hours saw the big dining room with fairly crowded. Many local folk motored to the resort for the evening.
     The new hotel, the cost of which approximates $300,000, occupies an especially imposing sight on the Columbia River Highway a mile west of the city limits of Hood River. It is three stories high with a full basement cut from solid rock. Wau-Guin-Guin falls of Phelps creek leaps over the Columbia's canyon at the east end of the hotel. The basement ballroom opens through a series of concrete arches on a promenade overlooking the falls. French windows of the dining room are just above the ballroom arches. The hostelry's bedrooms are all on the second and third stories. It has 48 rooms and each room or suite has a bath. The building has 44 bathrooms for guests. Each room has an individual telephone. Every provision has been made for prevention of fire or safety of guests in case of such contingency. Adequate fire escapes have been constructed and every floor is equipped with a fire hose and extinguishers. The hotel has its private water system. Huge springs located a short distance of the valley furnish 120,000 gallons of pure mountain water daily.
     Families with young children were babies will be welcome at the Columbia Gorge Hotel. Reception visitors viewing the bedrooms were interested in noting several rooms equipped with railed in baby beds. It developed that the management has laid in an adequate supply of the small beds.
     Mr. Benson declares that he does not expect the new hotel, for a long time at least, to be a dividend paying investment. He was induced, he declares, to finance the proposition in order in a measure to break the ice and do some pioneering in getting Oregon started toward the development of her tourist crop. Eventually he expects the tourist industry to develop into one of great profit for the state.
     "We have built our good roads," he says, "and have invited the world to come among us and view of our beauty spots, but we hadn't done anything toward taking care of them after they arrived. With our new hotel we will, in a measure, take care of this. We are just pointing the way for others to follow in the business of entertaining tourists."
     A feature of the initial service of the new hotel was the intermingling of Hood River and Portland folk. This will grow. Portland folk consider the hotel as much their own as does Hood River. The new hotel, it is projected, is destined more than any agency ever set in motion to draw the two communities closely together.
     The new hotel's initial service occurred Wednesday night of last week when members of the P.E.O., of The Dalles, were entertained by their husbands. The party was a complete surprise to the honored on their guests, who were first informed of the banquet on their arrival at the hostelry. Those participating in the surprise party were: Mr. and Mrs. H.R. Fanchar, Mr. and Mrs. E.M. Williams, Mr. and Mrs. C.R. Marshall, Mr. and Mrs. Carlton P. Williams, Mr. and Mrs. O.R. Krier, Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Bloom, Mr. and Mrs. R.L. Kirk, Mr. and Mrs. R.O. Maxon, Mr. and Mrs. W.L. Critchton, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Stadelman, Mr. and Mrs. H.S. Rice, Mr. and Mrs. B.A. Lubbe, Mr. and Mrs. John Van Dellen, Mr. in Mrs. F.I. Phipps, Mr. and Mrs. Bert Thomas, Mr. and Mrs. Ben R. Litfin, Mr. and Mrs. Don Yantis, Mr. and Mrs. H.E. Greene, Mr. and Mrs. F.W. Sims, Mr. and Mrs. M.R. Mathew and Mr. and Mrs. R.C. Bradshaw.
     Many pleasant surprises in the way of guests and program were given. Guy G. Emery, of Hood River, principal speaker of the evening, appeared as the state organizer of the B & I. L.'s, a fictitious organization, being assigned by the genial husbands the duty of roasting the women with ironic compliments and humorous stories. Good music and dancing followed a splendid dinner. Service of the hotel was fine and everyone was delighted.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer