The bottom of Lake Merwin was once fertile farm land, with pear orchards and old growth timber. The valley was settled as early as 1870 and generations of people raised their families there. As the cities grew families put their farms on the market and the Northwestern Electric Company slowly bought the farms. In 1929 the dam broke ground in Shirt-Tail Canyon. The old growth timber was cut down in the valley and in 1950 the gates of the dam closed and the river began to rise. First homes were flooded and then the locust trees in bloom disappeared. It is said, to this day, that the locust trees still stand at the bottom of the lake. When the lake is lowered for repairs the old road that went into the valley can be seen from Woodland City. About an 8th of a mile east is where an old cemetery had been and at Marble Creek you may see the old road which had been built above the Marble Creek School where many of the valley children attended school. If you travel east from Marble Creek about two miles you will reach Rocky Point where the local Indians used to camp and make arrowheads from the multi-colored rocks. The arrowheads from these Indians still surface every now and then. For the whole story of life in the Lake Merwin Valley and the “Water Babies”, go to http://www.lewisriver.com/historyone.html.
On November 24, 1971, D.B. Cooper jumped from Boeing 727, at 10,000 feet going 170 miles per hour with 2 parachutes and 200,000 dollars and he has never been heard from again. The FBI ran computer models and pinpointed his landing area in the middle of Lake Merwin. The official FBI stand is that, after an exhaustive search, there was no trace of D.B. Cooper in Lake Merwin. A small submersible was launched and nothing was found, however, legends say different. It was rumored that there was a white area in the lake that was thought to be a parachute so the lake was drained but nothing was found. Another story stated that an overcoat and footprints were found coming out of the lake. Yet another story states that a local recluse who showed up about the time D.B. Cooper jumped resembles the FBI sketches and still lives among us today. Who knows, but every year in Ariel, directly across the lake from the Hideaway you too can join in a D.B. Cooper Where Are You party during Thanksgiving week.
In 1902 there was a massive forest fire in the Yacolt area. The fire destroyed 239,000 acres, twice the size of the entire Mt. Saint Helens National Monument and continues to be the largest fire in Washington State history. Forests and farmlands from the Columbia River to Mt. Saint Helens were destroyed, encompassing Cowlitz, Clark and Skamania Counties. The fire destroyed 12 billion board feet and lasted 36 hours and traveled 30 miles.
On Sunday, May 18th, 1980, the Hideaway woke up to a sleepy sunny morning. Suddenly all the animals were quite, no birds chirping, no chipmunks or squirrels barking. The deer hunkered down because something was amiss. At 8:32 AM Mount St. Helens erupted, and LMCH members sat in their trailers, drinking their coffee and watching their TV’s or listening to their radios only to hear that the mountain had blown. No one had heard a thing. Hurrying to their decks or to a vantage point in camp, they stood and watched the mountain erupt. Because the mountain blew out to the North there was no sound to the South.
Mount St. Helens actually erupted twice. During second eruption, the ash moved to the south. Emergency personnel went door to door in camp and asked all members to evacuate the Hideaway and suddenly the Hideaway was in the Red Zone of Mount St. Helens. A steady stream of cars left the Hideaway down Columbia Tie Road, carrying as much water as they could to rinse windows off so that they could see.
The Red Zone was lifted and campers returned to the Hideaway to find several inches of ash and cedar shake roofs ruined and in need of replacement.
If you dig down far enough, in some places, you still can find ash and today the ash remains in the outer edges of our atmosphere.