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History of the Inn

The Trout Lake Country Inn has a rich and colorful history. It was built in 1904, and over the years has been a silent movie theater, bowling alley, dance hall, airplane hanger, dinner theater, bar, restaurant and inn. Please read below to explore this history.

Guler Hall Opening Day

The first permanent settler in Trout Lake Valley was Peter Stoller, a Swiss immigrant who homesteaded in the valley in 1879. By the mid to late 1880's however, an influx of additional settlers, mainly of Swiss and German descent, were drawn to the valley by the abundance of natural resources, fertile farm land and picturesque surroundings. Among the settlers were Chris and Philomena Guler who acquired a homestead in Bear Valley five miles south of Trout Lake in 1887. The following year they were contracted to deliver the mail from White Salmon to Trout Lake for $1 a day.

Inspired by his home country of Switzerland, Guler envisioned Trout Lake as a potential tourist haven and purchased property on both sides of Trout Creek, just southeast of the lake, for future development. In 1893, Guler constructed a hotel, the Guler Hotel, on the north side of the creek. The hotel offered commodious guest rooms as well as a variety of tent houses for those wishing to have a more outdoor experience. Conveniently it served as the last stop for the Wyer's Stage Line, which ran to Trout Lake from the community of White Salmon to the south and also as the final stop on the Bingen-Trout Lake stage line. By the turn-of-the-century the valley had become so thickly settled that Guler was contracted by the US Postal Service to open a permanent post office at his hotel in May of 1903.

That same year, the Guler's leased their land on the south side of the creek to German brothers Herman and Henry Thode. The brothers began construction of a recreational hall immediately and by July 4, 1904 they opened their "Amusement Hall". The bulldinq housed a large dance floor, a stage, a soda fountain and a two-lane handset, candlestick bowling alley. Upon its construction, the Hall soon became widely known for it's recreational offerings, especially the Saturday night barn dances, which featured music by a variety of talented local artists. Visitors to the Hall could get a free sandwich with a five-cent mug of beer. Business for the Thode brothers was good and in 1909 they purchased the land upon which the Hall was bullt. For the next 50+ years, the building served as a community center for Trout Lake residents. Here, dances, meetings, potlucks, elections and informal gatherings would be held.

In 1909 the Thode brothers and other bachelors. who had settled around Trout Lake organized the Trout Lake Bachelor's Club at the nearby Guler Hotel. The organization, purportedly the first of its kind in the Northwest, took out several advertisements in newspapers around the Pacific Northwest looking for eligible bachelorettes. Quickly word spread from California to British Columbia and the response was almost immediate. Within a month, hundreds of letters of interest had been sent to club members. The Klickitat County Agriculturist reported in March 1909 that the City Clerk in the Dalles had been receiving numerous "applications" from eligible bachelorettes. They even went so far as to publish a letter from a Spokane bachelorette.

It read: "Feb 27,1909. Mr. J.M. Filloon: the Sunday Morning Journal, contained the enclosed clipping. Thinking perhaps the fifteen bachelors might have some difficulty in securing affinities, I thought I might venture my name. If there are any gentleman over 40, just hand him the enclosed envelope.-Fearing I am . imposing on your valuable time I will close. Sincerely, Irene Greennoe." One correspondent to club members stated that she would head a delegation of ten ladies to the Trout Lake Summer Resort, and estimated that "the boys would have to be on dress parade during their stay if they expected to capture the fair maidens."

Membership in the club grew from 15 to 35 in a matter of months and requests to join the club came in from several bachelors outside of the Trout Lake Valley. Herman Thode was elected president and the club met one Sunday every month at "Thode's Hall" (which by then was being formally called the Trout Lake Hall) to discuss "affairs of importance".

While the club began as a joke, the local men soon took it seriously due to the volume of mail and the "lack of eligible femininity in Trout Lake Valley". Reportedly every unmarried woman, young and old, in the vicinity of the valley had been spoken for. Members of the club were required to be "young men under 36 and well-to-do", which may have accounted for the overwhelmingly enthusiastic response of female applicants. Membership to the club was three dollars.

With the Trout Lake Bachelor's Club in full swing, the Hall did a brisk business throughout the teens and twenties. In an attempt to draw more of the tourist trade along with the hunters and fishermen, the Thode brothers changed the name of the Hall once again, this time to the Trout Lake Tourist Club. By 1921 Herman Thode was "getting weary" and was looking for new business opportunities'? He offered the business to the J.A. "Doodle" and Josephine Jermanne who began leasing the hall on March 24, 1924. Meanwhile Herman Thode opened Trout Lake's first gas station on property he owned at the corner of Guler Road and the main highway.

Though advertised as the "Tourist Club", many locals affectionately referred to the building as "Doodle's Place". The Jermanne's offered food, beverage, beer and nightly pinocle games. J.A.'s own business card advertised: "Tourist Club - Beer-Confectionary-Tobacco- Fishing License- Tackle; PO Trout Lake, Guler Wash.' Other events included community dances which continued throughout the prohibition era. While alcohol could no longer be legally sold at the Club, reportedly some male customers hid their stash by stuffing bottles into the snow bank off the porch in winter or concealed bottles in nearby tree branches or bushes at other times of the year. Jean (Wang) Corum, recalls with fondness many fun times roller skating in the large hall with other chlldren. For reasons unknown, the Jermanne's removed the bowling alley. Occasionally plays were performed on the stage and in the early days silent movies were shown in the hall. The projection booth portholes are still present and can be seen in the main hall. There was also a popular soda fountain in the front room where ice cream, soda and candy were sold to the kids and/or beer to the adults.

The novelty of ice cream was available thanks to an ice house located next door to the Club. The building still stands today but has been converted into a weekend residence. Diversifying their business, the Jermanne's added a 13' x 30' addition to the south side of the building in the early 1920's. The rear served as a public bath house and the front portion was used as a post office.

Housing a Post Office further established the Tourist Club as an important building in the community. In 1926 Josephine Jermanne took over the Guler Post Office and moved it from it's location at the Guler Hotel to the Tourist Club. The post office remained in the Tourist Club until 1936. An original section of the metal mailboxes is still on display at the Tourist Club. The closing of the Post Office in 1936 signaled a gradual decline in popularity of the Club and use of Trout Lake Valley as a tourist destination.

The Jermanne's finally bought the property on May 18, 1946 from Martin "Herman" Thode, who had bought out his brother Henry's interest the previous year. According to Ann Jermanne (daughter-in-law of J.A. and Josephine), the brothers had not gotten along very well for a long time, and they were dividing various properties they had purchased over the years. Herman eventually owned all property located in Washington, while Henry took all properties on the other side of the Columbia in Oregon.

By the 1950's, the Guler Hotel across the creek from the Tourist Club began to show signs of deferred maintenance and had slipped in popularity with the summertime tourists. This naturally had an adverse affect on the Tourist Club as both were located off the main road, Highway 141. The Guler Hotel was razed by a new owner, Harold Hollenbeck, in the early 60's and Klickitat County closed the bridge to vehicular traffic. Pedestrians continued to use the bridge however to reach the popular fishing and swimming holes on the other side and continued to do so until the bridge was demolished in 2003 due to safety concerns.

Beginning in 1951 the Tourist Club was run for the next ten years by Ann & Ben Jermanne. Ben (the son of J.A. and Josephine) and his brother & sister had lived in the buildinq since 1924. While Ben and Ann worked at keeping the doors open, the Saturday night dances became only an occasional occurrence and the restaurant operated on sporadic basis. Ann operated the business until 1961 and then turned it over to Betty Hylton. She kept the Tourist Club open from 1961-1964, at which time the building was sold to Bill Morris.

Under the new ownership the name of the business was changed again to the Trout Lake Tavern. Despite its new owner and name change, the building was rarely used. Morris used a majority of the building as a makeshift hanger for portions of his fragmented airplane. Still local farmers and loggers stopped in for an occasional beer, conversation and pinochle game. The Tavern was the only watering hole for 12 miles in any direction.

In 1975, weekend music again returned to the building under a succession of different owners - Lon & Teresa Johnson ("73-'75), Pat Sweeney ('76-'79) and Gil Martin ('79- 2011). After a long absence, stage plays were reintroduced by the newly formed Trout Lake Art Players in 1980 and summer dinner theatre shows were performed from 1980 to 1998. Live music at the Club began scaling back in 1986 and the names of the building was changed once again to the Country Inn. The Trout Lake Country Inn changed ownership in 2011 for the first time in 30 years. Currently the Inn offers a restaurant and bar with live music on Saturday nights.

  • Collier, Penny & Bill, Along the Mt. Adams Trail, Marantha Press, 1979
  • Corum, Jean, Personal reminiscence regarding Trout Lake Tourist Club, Nov., 2004
  • Elmer, Mrs. Alice, "History of Trout Lake Valley", The Enterprise, 3/29/35
  • Elmer, Jeffery, Trout Lake, Wash. Historical and Biographical Information, Reference, 1998
  • Holtman, Ray & Loulla, Personal communication with Gil Martin, Dec., 2004
  • Jermanne, Ann, Personal communication, Dec. 2004
  • Klickitat Agricultiris!' "Kilckitat Intelligence", Goldendale, WA., 3/06/09, pg.5; 3/13/09, pg.1; 6/05/09, pg.9
  • Klickitat County Records, Warranty Deed: Guler to Thode, pg. 245, Aug. 31, 1909
  • Klickitat County Records, Warranty Deed: Henry Thode to Herman Thode, Vol. 93, page 324, July 28, 1945
  • Klickitat County Records, Warranty Deed: Thode to Jermann, pg. 622, May 18, 1946
  • May, Pete, editor, History of Klickitat County, Klickitat County Historical Society, 1982
  • McCoy, Keith, Mt. Adams Country - Forgotten Corner of the Columbia Gorge, Pahto Publications, 1987
  • McCuiston, Battina, Personal communication with Gil Martin, Nov., 2004
  • Mt. Adams Sun, Bingen, WA., 8/20/56, pg. 2; 7/30/53, pgA
  • Peterson, Wallace, "Early History of Trout Lake Valley", The Enterprise, 9/19/68, pg. 9

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