Home Local & Regional News Ronald McDonald House at Eagle Lake Gets New Roof

Ronald McDonald House at Eagle Lake Gets New Roof


Thanks to the concerted efforts of the Lassen National Forest and non-profit partners and volunteers the Gallatin House at Eagle Lake, home of Camp Ronald McDonald, has a brand new roof. 

The Forest’s Eagle Lake Ranger District teamed up with HistoriCorps and Camp Ronald McDonald at Eagle Lake to provide a new roof for the historic structure, also known as Cedar Lodge.

More than a month of restoration work included removing deteriorated cedar shingles, repairing roof decks, and installing new cedar shingles on a steep roof some 30 feet off the ground. HistoriCorps and Lassen National Forest personnel both supervised volunteers and helped perform the work.

HistoriCorps, a Colorado-based non-profit that trains and works with volunteers in the art of historical preservation of buildings on public lands, recruited six volunteers through the U.S. Forest Service’s Passport in Time program.

Camp Ronald McDonald, which holds a special permit for the use of Gallatin House, signed up a team of eight AmeriCorps volunteers and helped fund and obtain a grant for the project.

More than a dozen Lassen National Forest employees, from fields such as archaeology, engineering and fire, also pitched in. Even the District Ranger, Ann Carlson, lent a hand and helped with the roofing.

“The project would have gone several more weeks, and Gallatin House would not have been ready for the arrival of campers if we had not had all the help of both the volunteers and Forest Service personnel,” said Carlson, who reports the project was completed June 8th.

Camp Ronald McDonald director Vicky Flaig provided information on funds used for the project. Pacific Coast Building Materials provided $8,000 in materials, as well as a low cost bid to the Forest, which itself spent $15,000 for materials.

The National Preservation Trust Society contributed a $5,000 grant, obtained by Camp Ronald McDonald. John Anderson Construction provided $1,500 for scaffolding, while Dennis Banks Construction gave another $1,500 for a fork lift. Camp Ronald McDonald provided the remainder of the funding in the sum of $20,000.

A report compiled by the Eagle Lake Ranger District had identified restoration of the roof as the most important rehabilitation project for Gallatin House. More than 20 years had passed since the roof’s last renovation.

Findings indicated that the roof was both dilapidated and dangerous; shingles had blown and fallen off, and one could see spots of sunlight coming through the roof from inside the attic. The prognosis regarding the roof was that there were not too many winter seasons left before some major damage would occur.

Located on the southern shore of Eagle Lake, 19 miles north of Susanville, Gallatin House was built in 1913 as a summer residence for the Gallatins, a prominent Sacramento and San Francisco family, according to the Passport in Time project description. The family owned the lodge for 31 years until it was acquired by the Forest Service in 1946 to be used for administrative purposes.

The site’s management was taken over by Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern California (RMHCNC) in 1988, when it acquired a special use permit to open a residential summer camp. Known as Camp Ronald McDonald at Eagle Lake, it was created to serve campers with various emotional, physical, and developmental disabilities. RMHCNC is responsible for the repair and maintenance of Gallatin House, with Forest Service guidance, supervision, and approval.

According to Flaig, camp personnel were able to occupy Gallatin House throughout the reroofing process. The lodge is currently the primary location of communication and business for Camp Ronald McDonald at Eagle Lake, which celebrates its 20th birthday this year.

“The Gallatin House is also used as a focal point for one of our Outdoor Education activities that teaches our campers about the history of Eagle Lake, Albert and Malvena Gallatin, and the Gallatin House itself. The House is the first stop on our camp tour and the most asked- about building on the site,” said Flaig.

Also on the horizon for the CRM grounds are plans to create a reflective sitting area that overlooks Eagle Lake, designed to honor those who have been instrumental in the camp’s success. It is to be named for Robert “Bob” Olson who, as a former (retired) Lassen National Forest employee, played a key role in initiating the camp, according to Flaig. The project is slated to begin summer 2013.

The area will feature bricks with the names of volunteers who have passed away. Olson passed in March of this year after a long battle with diabetes. Olson’s connection and commitment to the camp endure. At the time of his passing, donations in his memory were directed to Camp Ronald McDonald at Eagle Lake.



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