A glimpse of Canyada Lodge (ca. 1913)

Post Card of Canyada Lodge
Post Card of Canyada Lodge

Imagine it’s 1913. The Titanic disaster is now a year past and you’re looking forward to the fabulous year ahead. You and spouse decide to take a trip to Mount Rainier. You’ll need a place to stay, because it’s a long drive in your new Roadster and a friend told you about a place in La Grande that just opened called Canyada Lodge.

It’s quite elegant — designed by Heath and Gove and built by Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney, John L. McMurray for a staggering $92,500 [over $2 million in 2013 currency).

You arrive and Canyada is more spectacular that you imagined, perched above the Nisqually Canyon with ten stone columns, and curved, Asian-inspired roofline. The lodge even provides car services — free air, a supply of gasoline, oil tires, tubes, and a repair shop.

Canyada Lodge dining area
Canyada Lodge dining area

Mrs. Zella R. Turner greets you. She manages the lodge and is a graduate of Pratt’s Institute in New York and an authority on dietetics. She also has “extensive” experience catering at high-class hotels on the east coast. Under her are college girls from Oregon State University, who all specialized in domestic science. You’re in good hands.

Rooms & Meals
The rates are quite affordable — $2.50 a night, or $12.00 for the week — and the rooms are ultra-modern with hot and cold water and electric heat. Although, what else would you expect with the new hydroelectric dam just a few minutes walk away.

Dinner is a bit pricey. For .75 you can get a full dinner, but you have your heart set on the Canyada’s special Chicken dinner for $1.00 ($23.00 today). You read in their brochure “Our fried ‘Chicken Dinners,’ with hot biscuits and country gravy, too well known to speak of, are a thing of pride with us.” Heck, you’ve come this far, why not splurge?

Canyada Lodge Brochure (page 3)
Canyada Lodge Brochure (page 3)

Before you dine, you walk out onto one of the two verandas overlooking the scenic Nisqually valley and get glimpse of Mount Rainier. You make your way back in to an immense living room filled with comfortable chairs and warm up in front of a crackling fireplace. You relax, listening to a guest playing piano, and look up. The Asian architecture has even made its way into the ceiling beams of Washington fir, which are trimmed with Japanese bamboo.

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Canyada Lodge being built
Canyada Lodge being built

When you get back home, you tell your friends they must stay at the Canayda. You hope they heeded your advice because in 1927 you read the lodge burned down. Owner E. J. Leak rebuilt in1931, but it wasn’t nearly as extravagant, and it too eventually burned down in 1966.

You, however, are glad you got the chance to be a guest at the original Canyada Lodge.




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