Historic cabin in Gifford Pinchot forest burns

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor


photoPeterson Prairie Guard Station, built in 1926, burned down Monday night. It was a rental cabin in the Mount Adams Ranger District of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.


On the Web

Columbian outdoor writer Allen Thomas described a winter visit to the guard station in 2007. Click here to read it.

Fire on Monday night destroyed the historic Peterson Prairie Guard Station, northwest of Trout Lake on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Built in 1926, the rental cabin in the Mount Adams Ranger District was popular with hikers, cross-country skiers, snowshoers and huckleberry pickers.

"We were all shocked when we heard this morning," said Ken Sandusky of the national forest. He said his colleagues were "deeply saddened by its loss."

Sandusky said a renter had been in the cabin days earlier and the fire is thought to have started in the chimney.

"As one of the two rental cabins in the forest, it represents a big loss to the Gifford Pinchot forest, not only for its recreation value but for its historic value, as well," Sandusky said Tuesday night.

He said the cabin is so old the forest was called Columbia National Forest when it was built. In 1949, the national forest was renamed for Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the Forest Service.

In 2007, Columbian Outdoors Editor Allen Thomas wrote, "Winter is a great time to rent the cabin to enjoy a double dose of solitude and scenery. … The guard station has a bedroom, small kitchen and living room."

He continued, "A night at Peterson Prairie isn't really roughing it. There are propane lights in all three rooms, two propane furnaces in the living room and a four-burner propane stove and oven in the kitchen. A nearby shed is stocked with firewood, and there's a clean vault toilet about 150 feet behind the back door."

The visitor register at Peterson Prairie is full of loving comments from guests.

"No mice. Nice that everyone keeps the place up so well,'' wrote Tom McGilvra and Sheri Melling of Scappoose, Ore., in late January. "We love it and plan to come up in summer. Wonderful memories for a lifetime. The food always tastes better out here."

The cabin rented for $50 a night.