History Hangs in the Balance in Wallowa County


written by Bronte Dod | photo by Ellen Bishop

When a historic lodge was put on the market in Eastern Oregon, ten community members found a way to keep it local. Fearing that a corporate hotel chain would buy the property, a group of ten community members formed Lake Wallowa Lodge, LLC and convinced the owner to let them buy the lodge and surrounding property.

Lake Wallowa Lodge LLC has raised $1.1 million to buy the nine-acre property only yards from the shores of Wallowa Lake in Eastern Oregon but still need another $1 million to finalize the purchase.

Ellen Bishop, a member of the purchasing group, said there is a history to the lodge that is essential to the community. The lodge was a community gathering space for Wallowa County. Beyond that, the land is a vital habitat to species in the area. “The possibility of losing the lodge and the surrounding forest and riparian areas to development is something that would forever change Wallowa County,” Bishop said.

If the lodge were to be bought by a private hotel chain, its redevelopment could contribute to a loss of habitat that is essential to the community, according to Bishop.


Wallowa Lake | photo by Ellen Bishop

James Monteith, a rancher in Wallowa County and another member of the group, said that they are working with the support of the Nez Perce tribe to put a conservation easement on the property. By doing so, Monteith hopes they can protect the habitats of the bald eagles and sockeye salmon that live there.

Once they own the lodge, the group, Monteith said, would make only minor renovations to the property, including making the second floor handicap accessible.

For both Bishop and Monteith, assuring that the lodge stays in the community is about more than keeping it independent, it’s about rebuilding the community spirit of the lodge that once thrived there, and preserving its cultural and historic significance.

This winter, members of Lake Wallowa Lodge have been touring Oregon trying to raise investor interest in the lodge and property. Those interested can visit lakewallowalodge.com to learn more.

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  1. says: Anonymous

    The lodge & Wallowa Lake is also a treasured memory for our family. We stayed at the Lodge once when our kids were very young. Our son takes his family each 4th of July to Wallowa Lake for their family vacation. Surely your post may help generate something for you. I agree to look into the Wildhorse Resort, maybe the Tribes can do something?

  2. says: Todd Amberson

    I'm surprised that place is not a historical landmark due to the story of how it was built… Whatever we need to do to save this lodge we most certainly should do. Count me in. ~

  3. says: Maury

    I am a third generation Oregonian- my parents are from Baker City and Hereford – (i still have family that lives here) my family has been coming to the Wallowas since I was a child – I now bring my kids (since they were young) here to enjoy the beauty and wildlife – I am in hopes that the purchase of the Hotel and land around stays local and no outside company or overseas company gets their hands on this property – kudos to the people who have started the ball rolling in saving this area – it has such great history that should never be lost

  4. says: Peggy Laughery

    I have been there many times, including my honeymoon. Thank you, thank you, thank you for keeping it just as it is! NO ONE WANTS A MEGA-RESORT!!!

  5. says: Pat Hinckley

    This area is an exquisite beauty and a national treasure. Kudos to those working to preserve the history and environment there.

  6. says: sandy henry

    Have they thought about going to the casino in Pendleton for a grant or other help. I am sure they would help out. They have a web site. Can't hurt by trying. Wildhorse. Com or something like that. Love wallowa and we to make sure that the
    Lodge stays in local hands.

  7. says: Carolee Straughan

    The people of Joseph are to be commended for keeping the lodge local. It would be a shame to see this beautiful, historical place fall into a public commercial enterprise. My ancestors would approve of your endeavors and that of the Nez Perce tribe.