Pisgah Home Road – what’s behind this curious name?

What an odd name “Pisgah Home Road” is! The name refers to the Mountain from which Moses first saw the promised land. But the local story about this mountain road above Scappoose is even more interesting…

Apparently, it refers to a faith healing movement started around 1900 by Finis Yoakum at his house in Los Angeles. The home originally had room for only eight persons and was founded “to give free care to drunkards and outcasts” who wished to reform. Apparently, the effort grew into a major social initiative that inspired good Samaritans as far away as Portland, where “Mother Lawrence” took up the challenge. Hattie Lawrence was born in Wisconsin in 1859 and came to Portland at the age of 26. She seems to have copied the Pisgah Home concept when she established a Portland-based “Pisgah Home” to take care of the “down and out old men”, and it was said that the Portland police regularly brought her men that had been arrested for drunkenness. Needing a place in the country where her aged wards could do physical labor and restore their health, she acquired a piece of land above Scappoose in 1919. Apparently, she and her “down and out” men built an impressive three story shake-sided building on the logged-off land. It was surrounded by gardens and tended by old men hoeing and busying themselves with horticulture. The refuge even had its own cemetery to accept the last remains of those whose relatives had forsaken them. In 1937 Mother Lawrence died as the result of a car accident. The land was subsequently acquired by local Japanese businessmen, but they were soon dispossessed by the onset of the Second World War and the land now belongs to the Longview Fibre Company.

About Jim

Love to spend time getting lost in the deep forests of the Pacific Northwest with Zoe, my Siberian Husky.
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3 Responses to Pisgah Home Road – what’s behind this curious name?

  1. daniel keene says:

    I am a lifelong columbia county resident and even having lived and played on these roads, in these woods ,most of my life, I never heard the story of the Pisgah home retreat until about a year ago. Very cool. Do you have any pictures of the original main house and surrounding enclave? I have had a re-awakening of my interest in the logging history of Columbia/Clatsop Counties since I came back to retire in Vernonia.I am a 60 yr old Disabled Viet Nam Vet. I grew up in the last house on the road on the Old Bunker Hill freight and mail road and as a child remember walking the old logging grades all over these mountains. Climbing on old steam donkeys and train and heavy equipment that was abandoned. Climbing the old trestles(there used to be lots of them in the forests). I remember when you could walk among the ruins and see where the old town of Wilark once stood. any way it’s nice to see interest in our heritage on the rise. Danny Keene.

  2. Bert Van Laer says:

    I remember the old building and cemetery. My cousin and I used to go shooting out there. I think (?) I have a photo – though not when it was in use. When I get some time, I’ll look through the photo bin.

  3. Dan says:

    I rember motorcycle riding up to the Pisgah Home site back in the 70’s. There was just the concrete foundation left. I would like to see photos of the place and of the woman that ran the facilities? I believe there is a radio transmission station above the fondation not more then a half mile. There was also an old log cabin further up the road from the home fondation. Thanks to all who have provided some history of this location.

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