Early History

Contact the club Historian for more information about the history of the club.

On Oct. 3, 1915, twenty-six men of the Progressive Businessmen’s Club gathered at Larch Mountain’s top to dedicate the newly completed trail. Capping the ceremony was the announcement of the formation of the Trails Club of Oregon, with Sam Lancaster as its first president. A patriarch of the Trails Club, Samuel Lancaster is famous for building the Columbia River Scenic Highway.

Well-known local residents eagerly joined and actively supported the club. They included department store scions Julius Meier and Aaron Frank, Oregonian publisher Henry Pittock, clothier Charles F. Berg, and Amos Benson. Benson’s father Simon, more than any other person, made the Gorge Highway and the Larch Mountain Trail possible. At the time, the first leg of the scenic highway, running from Corbett to Multnomah Falls was nearing completion.

Early in 1915, the Larch Mountain trail was conceived. Henry Hayek, who was to become the Trails Club’s second president, moved that the Progressive Business Men’s Club sponsor construction of the trail. A total of $1,000 was immediately pledged. All rights of way were secured at no cost. Simon and Amos Benson donated additional cash and invested considerable time in the project.

A few years later a group of members conceived a lodge home for the Trails Club on their own property. While gathered around the camp fires and at weekly luncheons, they talked about a home for the club. Because the Trails Club had its inception on the summit of Larch Mountain, its territory was selected as the logical place for a mountain home. More than a year was spent searching the area before the spot in the Columbia River Highlands upon which Nesika now stands, was found. Our club is grateful to Herman Erren, George Bickel and Fred Steeble, who formed the first Lodge Committee, for their far-reaching vision in choosing this spot.