Great places. Woodland Legend.

A Washington resort traces its logging roots to the 19th century.

After driving the narrow, winding Chumstick Road that leads to Mountain Springs Lodge outside Leavenworth, Washington, I could easily believe the story that owner Bill Newell told of his great-grandfather coming to Beaver Valley back in 1893. William Wesley Burgess got into the sawmill business on Orcas Island. He was seriously injured in an accident, and doctors told him his leg needed to be amputated. According to the story, Burgess had a gun under his pillow and told the hospital staff that he’d shoot anyone who tried to take his leg. Miraculously, they managed to save his leg. As soon as he was able, Burgess began searching for a place to live.

After traveling up and down the state, he heard of a trapper who had started a homestead in Beaver Valley and was offering to sell it for $1,000. Burgess took two horses and rode to Beaver Valley. «I’m of a mind to buy,» Burgess told the trapper, who replied, «I’m of a mind to sell.» The $1,000 changed hands, and the trapper rode off with the two horses, leaving Burgess with only a three-sided tarp to live in throughout the winter.

Returning to Orcas Island the following spring, Burgess was standing on a wharf with a friend when he observed two Norwegian sisters coming down the gangplank. «I’ll take the one on the right,» he told his friend, «and you take the one on the left.» They married the two women, and on July 5, 1895, Burgess and his bride arrived on Beaver Hill and looked down at the valley. Since there was no road at that time, they had to lower the horses and wagon over the cliff with trees tied behind them to keep them from free fall-ing. Then they lowered themselves with ropes to reach the floor of the valley. Here the newlyweds began their life together.

Bill Newell’s grandfather, W. O Burgess, got into the logging business in 1938, and his father, Ralph Newell, continued the family logging tradition by establishing Newell Logging Company. But by the 1990s, the spotted owl controversy ended Forest Service sales in the area, and logging was no longer profitable. «So we found ourselves with a lot of machinery that wasn’t worth very much,» Bill recalls. «That’s the year I decided if we wanted to stay in the valley and keep our land and pay taxes on it, we needed to find some other way to make a living.»

It was then that the family opened 0 their home to paying customers. Today, 1 Mountain Springs Lodge covers 100 acres and offers a wide range of accommodations, from single rooms in Beaver Creek Lodge to a cabin with six bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms. The resort can accommodate 80 guests on-site and rents eight off-site lodges in the area, which nearly double their capacity. The resort is a popular destination for family reunions, weddings and corporate retreats.

DBL Construction of Cle Elum, Washington did most of the building at Mountain Springs. «We designed the buildings with an architect,» says Bill, «and then we had them build them.»

Wood dominates the look of the resort’s accommodations. Logs in the Trailhead Cabin are Douglas fir; in the Snowmobilers’ Cabin, they are larch with dovetail corners. Although Beaver Valley Lodge is stick-built with log siding, all its vertical timbers and trusses are full log, and the interior siding is 2-inch slab boards with a gap that is filled with chinking that took Bill’s wife, Debbie, a year and a half to apply. The resort has nine fireplaces built of river rocks, which are lightly varnished to bring out their bright colors. «Every summer, the family spent many nights finding the rock, bringing it in and using it in most of the fireplaces,» says Bill. «We had a lot of fun gathering it.»

Spectacular flowerbeds and hanging baskets of calibrachoa and sweet potato vine greet guests as they approach Beaver Creek Lodge to register. «We do all the landscaping ourselves,» says Bill. «We have a few varieties of flowers that we really like — black-eyed Susans and cosmos are easy to take care of. And we put horse manure a foot and a half deep on all the beds. The first year, the perennials grew about two and a half feet tall, but this year they grew six feet tall. I had no idea the manure would do that.» Huge hostas, dramatic ligularias share space in the beds with phlox, salvia, ornamental grasses and monarda. Fountains create rainbows over ponds on the property where Kamloops trout leap to the surface when guests feed them fish food available at the lodge.

Four of Bill and Debbie’s children work in the business. Daughter Jaimi is general manager; her husband Nick repairs the snowmobiles during winter — their busiest season. Many of their guests come from the Seattle area, just two hours away. «We might have several hundred people here a day during the winter,» Bill says, «especially on weekends. We do guided snow-mobile tours, and we have 70 machines that we rent to guests. Then the sleigh rides come on like gangbusters. » All the cabins have hot tubs, and the family plans to add an eight-line zipline and a swimming pool to the resort’s list of amenities. Wineries abound in the area.

Despite its proximity to the Seattle- Tacoma metropolitan area, Beaver Valley remains a place apart, a wooded environment where it’s easy to forget the bustle of everyday life and retreat to relax and enjoy nature. Year round, there’s no better place to get away from it all than Mountain Springs Lodge.

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