the restaurant & the food
Exploring Camp 18 is like walking through a nostalgic piece of history in Oregon. You can find it nestled at mile post 18 (hence the name Camp 18) on Highway 26 that connects Portland to the coast. It’s an impressive log cabin on steroids that serves “logger-style” meals (i.e. huge portions full of bacon and carbs) and has an entire museum of old logging equipment to explore. Loggers used to work their butts off all day long, so they would devour massive 6,000 calorie breakfasts in order to sustain them. The best way to enjoy one of these logger breakfasts is followed by one of the many hikes nearby.
That gigantic log you see in the photo above, running across the length of the pitched ceiling, is actually the largest structural member of its kind in the United States! That bad boy is 85 feet long and it weighed about 25 tons when it was cut down. In fact, all the timber used to build the restaurant was hand peeled by Gordon Smith and his friends & family.
You can order a stack of flatcars (griddle cakes that were served in old logging camps), corks (waffles, named after a logger’s boot imprint pattern) or a enormous (like, larger than your head) homemade cinnamon roll if you get there in time for breakfast, which is served until 2 pm.
the logging museum
There are all sorts of old and older logging equipment laying around. It’s dubbed a “logging museum”. But it’s more like someone found a bunch of old rusty stuff and set it down wherever there was space. There are signs everywhere warning to not climb on anything, which makes it that much more tempting…
Whether you are a logging-history-fanatic or you had no idea that lumberjacks were more than a myth, this logging museum is fascinating. There aren’t plaques with details for every piece of equipment, but there are a few signs with a note of what is under all that rust and where it was last used. Some of these machines were used within the past few decades!
the logging equipment
At Camp 18, they have several different “steam donkeys” which were powered by steam and used to drag logs on winch lines attached to them. We found huge piles of cables, old saws, tractor-looking rigs, and all sorts of other rusty, cool things.
One of the most thrilling things is to walk under the 161-foot spar tree standing erect and rigged to a bunch of cables (see the photo directly below). Photos don’t do it justice. This spar tree would have been used as the highest anchor point in a logging setup. Someone would have actually climbed up that tree to cut the limbs and top off. NOT something they probably tell you in the interview.
logging in Oregon today
Oregon has laws in place to protect our forests’ habitats, wildlife, sustainability, air quality, soil productivity etc. As you drive from Portland out to Camp 18 and as you continue West to the coast, you’ll see several logged areas that have baby trees growing, marked with signs like, “Planted 2006.” This is in accordance with Oregon’s reforestation rules. Logging became intertwined with the Pacific Northwest’s history a long time ago, and Oregon Forest Practices Act helps bring the logging industry into the modern era with a focus on sustainability and responsibility for the forest ecosystems. YAY for the forests!
“the northwest’s own railway”
The Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway (S.P.&S.) was completed in 1908. It mostly carried grain west and lumber east. Lumber that was logged in areas just like here at Camp 18. They have an old “Rest Station” train car that is actually functioning! And the best part is that you can use the restroom without having to worry about your balance and aim, since this train car isn’t going anywhere!
humbug creek… and an elephant
Camp 18 Restaurant sits uphill from Humbug Creek. It’s a shallow, cool stream that flows serenely over river rocks. I’m not sure why it’s called “Humbug” Creek. Maybe it’s name after all the water bugs we found that effortlessly stride along the top of the creek?
We tested our balance on the shaky, wobbly stones to see how far we could walk out into the creek. And there were a couple groups of people who got food to go from the restaurant and sat near the creek to enjoy the sunlight, the breeze off the water and the sound of the creek trickling over the rocks. I wonder if the loggers ever took a break to cool off in the creeks and rivers that run along Highway 26?
I hope you get a chance to find yourself exploring Camp 18 and the numerous rivers, creeks, hikes and trails that run along this scenic highway out to Oregon coast! <3