Founder of Mt. Hood Meadows

Passing Date: 
Monday, September 13, 2021

Franklin Drake, the founder of Mt. Hood Meadows, Oregon, and a prominent Portland builder, died September 13. He was 93.

Drake graduated from the University of Michigan in 1950 and returned to Portland to join his brothers to run the Donald M. Drake Co., their father’s construction company.

In 1966, Drake and his brothers entered a competitive bid with the U.S. Forest Service for the development of Mt. Hood Meadows, on Mt. Hood’s east side. His group won a 30-year lease. Using helicopters to haul concrete and steel towers to build the original two lifts, Drake developed the lodge and other infrastructure within a year.

The resort opened for the 1967-68 season and operated only on weekends for the first winter. Drake managed the ski area until his retirement in 2006, when his son Matthew took the helm. Drake, a dedicated skier, tried unsuccessfully for years to develop a destination ski resort on the north side of Mt. Hood.

Drake directed his construction company from 1960-1995 and established it as one of the largest construction companies in the Northwest. Noteworthy Portland projects include the Benjamin Franklin Building, the KOIN Tower, the Vista Ridge Tunnels and the Rose Garden Arena. Drake served on numerous boards, including the Portland Chamber of Commerce.

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