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Shine a Light

Author Ted Katauskas Illustration Graham Roumieu


What’s the best-selling souvenir in the gift shop at Timberline Lodge? Visitors to the WPA-era inn perched just beneath the summit of Oregon’s Mount Hood don’t go for the Timberline toothpick holder or porcelain dinner bell— both of which are charming in their own way. They want the black hooded sweatshirt silkscreened with the maniacal visage of Jack Nicholson shouting “Here’s Johnny!”: a still from Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 classic, The Shining. Never mind that Kubrick filmed almost the entire movie on a soundstage in England. Because the filmmaker spliced a few seconds of aerial footage of Timberline’s facade into The Shining’s ominous opening sequence, Oregon’s mountain home away from home remains a mecca for horror movie fans.

“I really like that when I watch The Shining, I see the lodge,” says Timberline assistant general manager Scott Skellenger. “It’s the first thing you see in the movie, so in people’s minds, this is the hotel The Shining was filmed in. They come in here thinking some little kid’s gonna be riding a trike down the hallway, someone with an ax is gonna come flying through the door.”

Which makes Timberline a natural destination for Halloween revelers. Two years ago, Nike rented the entire lodge and threw a Shining-themed costume ball for several hundred guests who dressed up in ’20s formal attire. They mingled with actors recreating scenes from the movie, including a Jack Nicholson look-alike who sat at a table typing “ALL WORK AND NO PLAY…” all night.

Still, wouldn’t you expect a 75-year-old hotel to be haunted by spirits less benign than a few die-hard horror movie buffs?

“I lived for twenty-some years of my life at Timberline, and I can assure you there are no ghosts,” scoffs lantern- jawed employee Jeff Kohnstamm. And he should know: Like the Overlook Hotel’s Jack Torrance, he’s the Timberline’s caretaker.

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