By Dylan J. Darling

The Bulletin

Making the new ramp at Skyliner Lodge fit with the historic building takes a variety of log sizes, a tool called a drawknife and signature dark stain.

The lodge, about 10 miles west of Bend, has thousands of school children visit each year. The ramp will make the back porch accessible for kids with disabilities.

Constructing the ramp are workers from the Heart of Oregon Corps YouthBuild program, which gives students ages 16 to 24 the chance to learn building skills while also earning a high school diploma, GED certificate or college credits. YouthBuild workers mainly erect low-income houses and have projects underway in Madras and Redmond. The ramp project started earlier this fall.

Tasks Monday at the lodge included sanding the balusters on the new ramp. The goal was to find and smooth out any potential splinters in the wood, said Clinton Seidel, 17, of Redmond, one of the YouthBuild workers.

“It’s basically anything that can poke you,” he said.

Seidel is pursuing his high school diploma while picking up job skills and hopes to go to college to study diesel mechanics. His partner in sanding, Will Glenn, 22, also of Redmond, is earning college credits and wants to someday be an architect.

For now he was building his resume while improving Skyliner Lodge. “I like the idea of helping out the community,” Glenn said.

Built by the Works Progress Administration in 1935 and opened in 1936 the lodge was originally home to the Skyliner Club. The ski club maintained a ski hill close by, which featured a ski jump. A 1957 fire razed much of the ski area’s equipment and it never reopened. Mt. Bachelor opened a year later.

While a monument to the Skyliner Club, the lodge is also a place for education.

The High Desert Education Service District leases the lodge and hosts school groups, summer camps and more through the Children’s Forest of Central Oregon program. The lodge is situated on Tumalo Creek off Skyliners Road so teachers often take advantage of the surrounding woods and nearby water to give lessons about nature.

A group of some sort is at the lodge about 70 percent of school days, said Katie Chipko, executive director for the Children’s Forest. The Children’s Forest consists of 22 partners trying to introduce kids to nature. The lodge is central to this effort.

“It is really a great outdoor classroom for schools,” Chipko said.

Past tenants at the lodge include the Portland-based Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, according to The Bulletin archives.

Along with the ramp, future projects to increase accessibility at Skyliner Lodger include reconfiguring the bathroom, said Laura Handy, Heart of Oregon Corps executive director.

“We believe that the outdoors is an educational place for all and this is example of our commitment to that belief,” she said.

The YouthBuild crew is donating free labor for the new ramp. Swiss Mountain Log Homes in Sisters, Miller Lumber, Hooker Creek and the Central Oregon Builders Association all either discounted or donated materials for the project or provided equipment. The donations dropped the cost of the project from potentially around $12,000 to less than $3,000, said Ken Moore, construction trainer for YouthBuild.

An engineer with the Deschutes National Forest, which oversees the lodge, drew up the plans for the ramp. It’s being made to match the look of the spruce-log lodge. The framework of the ramp consists of 8-inch, 4-inch and 2½-inch Douglas fir logs, Moore said. Once the logs are in place workers are going over them with a drawknife, a two-handled woodworking tool, to give them a hand-worked appearance. The final touch is to add the same dark stain as the lodge.

When the ramp is done depends partially on the weather, particularly when heavy snow falls.

“We still have a couple weeks of work,” Moore said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7812,