The Oregon Caves Chateau
Part 4 - Landscape
June 6-8, 2004
by Jess Stryker
Click on any photo for a larger image.
Planning to visit the Chateau? See our primary Oregon Caves Chateau Information page where you will find an extensive list of the Chateau's facilities and amenities, maps and directions, the Chateau's direct reservations phone number, and a number of specific suggestions that will make your visit more enjoyable.
Oregon Caves National Monument:
Most of the landscape at Oregon Caves National Monument was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corp between 1934 and 1943. Materials used were either from the park, or selected to appear to be from the park. This creates a harmony between the constructed landscape and the surrounding natural features.
The style of landscape architecture used here at Oregon Caves is commonly referred to as "NPS-Rustic". (NPS means National Park Service.) Keep in mind that contrary to most people's beliefs, landscape architecture is more than plant selection and placement. Particularly when used by the NPS, landscape architecture incorporates all aspects of the visual landscape, including the placement of all man-built structures in relationship to the natural surroundings. So the NPS-Rustic landscape architecture style includes building exterior appearance, road layout and design, bridges, walls, walkways, and plant selection and placement. Within the park service a landscape architect is often the lead designer of the human use facilities of a park, determining where everything man-made in a park will be located and what it will look like. This is not meant to undercut the contributions of architects and engineers. Architects and engineers work closely with the landscape architect, often providing a "reality check" as to what is possible, and fleshing out the details. It is a closely coordinated team effort.
The NPS-Rustic style of landscape is defined by:
- Intensive use of hand labor to construct structures.
- The almost total rejection of regularity and symmetry in design.
- The extensive if not exclusive use of building materials that are native to the area.
The idea of the NPS-Rustic style is to create man-made features that blend into, and become part of the natural environment. Look at the photos on this page and notice how few straight lines there are. Walls, walkways and roads have curving edges. This is based on the theory that "nature abhors a straight line". This is somewhat of a misclaim, abundant examples of straight lines exist in nature. Even so, the minimal use of straight lines does create a appearance that is relaxing and very pleasing to the eye.
The elements of the NPS-Rustic style are very obvious in the photo above. Notice how the path curves. The walls are built from natural marble from the area, and are built without mortar which requires intensive amounts of hand labor and skill. A well-built dry-laid wall like this will far outlast a concrete or mortar wall. The lack of mortar makes the wall somewhat flexible, allowing it to move and settle, becoming a part of the natural environment over time. If you think of the ground surface it is constantly, but slowly changing. Soil erodes, plants come and go, water moves things around. A dry-laid wall flexes and moves with the soil, but a rigid concrete or mortar wall fights against this movement and eventually is overcome and broken by the soil movement.
The NPS-Rustic Style was first developed in the early 1900's by the park service. By 1935 it had been formally defined and set forth in a book called Park Structures and Facilities. Since most of the work at Oregon Caves was constructed at about the same time the book was released, the landscape here is a good example of the fully developed style. The book was replaced in 1938 with a new book called Park and Recreation Structures. Today this same book is published under the name Patterns from the Golden Age of Rustic Design and is available at the Caves Gift shop, or from Amazon.com.
I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour! If you plan to visit the Chateau, please see the review of our visit to The Chateau at Oregon Caves, as well as our Planning Your Visit page for helpful trip planning information.
Click Here for the review.
Oregon Caves Chateau Tour Index:
Oregon Caves Chateau, Part 2. Virtual Tour of The Chateau at Oregon Caves- the Interior Public Areas.
Oregon Caves Chateau, Part 3. Virtual Tour of The Chateau at Oregon Caves- the Guest Rooms & Ghosts.
Oregon Caves Chateau, Part 4. Virtual Tour of The Chateau at Oregon Caves- the Landscape.
Oregon Caves Chateau, Review. The Chateau at Oregon Caves- Review.
Oregon Caves Chalet Photos and information on the historic Chalet Visitor's Center building.
The Oregon Caves. Photos from the park service Cave Tour.
Oregon Caves Chateau- Planning Your Visit Brief history, extensive list of facilities and amenities, advice for visitors, maps and directions, reservations phone number.
Historic Hotels & Lodges