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History of Mountain Springs Lodge

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Mountain Springs Lodge is centerpiece to pristine natural beauty and is steeped in the rich tradition of a family heritage dating back to the 1800's. 


Take a moment to step back in time to recreate a sense of what it was like a hundred years ago.  On July 4, 1895 my great-grandfather, W. W. Burgess, brought his wife, Elizabeth, to this valley to begin a new life together.  He had traveled west from Iowa in 1888, settled on Orcas Island in the San Juan's, worked as a millwright, and before long began to feel the tug of the soil.  Missing the ranch life that he had known in Iowa, W. W. loaded his gear on his pack string and crisscrossed the state on scouting trips in search of an ideal location to settle.  

Acting on a tip from a friend in Leavenworth one day, he decided to pay a visit to Beaver Valley and its first homesteader, John Matthews.  Seems that Matthews, in the spirit of the mountain man that he was, wanted out of his homesteader obligations.  He had exhausted the supply of fur-bearing animals from the waters of Beaver Creek and was in need of showing improvements on the land in order to maintain ownership.  So when W. W. Burgess approached him with "I'm of a mind to buy," Matthews retorted, "And I'm of mind to sell."  One thousand dollars changed hands and the deal was struck then and there.  That very day John Matthews loaded his possessions on W. W.'s pack string and rode out of the valley, and W. W. found himself the new owner of a log home, dirt floor and all.  He didn't notice the lack of convenience...the beauty around him made up for that.


So on July 4, 1895 the young couple traveled by horse drawn wagon with all their possessions from Leavenworth to the brink of Beaver Hill.  The story goes that Elizabeth took one long look and then cried--not tears of joy, but of fear and loneliness because the valley looked so inhospitable to her.  There was only a game trail off the mountain so they cut trees, tied them together and to the wagon, and let horses, wagon and all earthly possessions down into the valley.

The couple spent the rest of their lives in Beaver Valley, cutting the trees, clearing brush and stumps to make room for fields, hewing out logs for their first home (still standing and lived in, near the intersection of Beaver Valley and Chiwawa Loop Roads) and raising a family of six children.  W. W. also built a sawmill that provided lumber for most of the early houses and barns in the vicinity.  There was backbreaking hard work, times of tragedy and heartbreak, experiences of loneliness and danger, worrisome encounters with Indians, and stories of near misses with cougars and bears.


Although those times are gone forever, we glance back from time to time to think of those, in a sense, romantic days of growth and discovery.  When Mountain Springs Lodge and Conference Center was created in 1990 we determined to maintain a strong link to the past by telling the story of early years.  Meadows and trails, sparkling streams and grand old barns are still as they were.  One central theme in the creation of Mountain Springs Lodge has been to blend all the new building activity with the environment through the use of local rock and Northwest native woods.  Also, buildings were situated so as to retain the openness of vast meadows and the panorama of the high Cascades.  

It is our sincere wish that the tranquility and quality of life you experience here will leave each of you with a genuine sense of accomplishment, as well as being rested, inspired, rejuvenated and ready to return to the vigorous challenges of the workplace.


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