History - Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort
Sleeping Lady and the land it occupies enjoy a rich and
storied past. From the area’s Native American roots, to the 1930s when
it was home to the Civilian Conservation Corps, to its role today as a
leading Northwest destination – Sleeping Lady continues embody the natural
beauty and history of Leavenworth and the Wenatchee Valley.
1800s to 1900s: Na-sik-elt
Known as “Na-sik-elt”, or Narrow Bottom Canyon, families
of the Yakama and P’squosa Native American tribes were the first human
inhabitants of the land that eventually became Sleeping Lady. The P’squosa
tribe is now recognized by the Yakama name for them – Wenatchi. For generations,
the tribes enjoyed some of the richest fishing grounds in the mid-Columbia
River basin. Over time, circumstance forced them to leave the canyon, however
there are many Native Americans who continue to have deep historical ties
to the area. Sleeping Lady is nestled at the foot of the spectacular Stuart
Range in the Cascade foothills. Upstream, Icicle Creek has carved a deep,
rugged canyon through this mountainous terrain where native peoples once
fished for salmon. Upon reaching Sleeping Lady, the creek opens into a
broader valley before joining the Wenatchee River, just north of the resort.
White settlers came to the valley in the late 1800s. These
included George and William Brisky, Mr. & Mrs. F. D. Estes, Nicholas
Kincherf, David C. Wilson, Miss Mary Ralston and Franklin A. Losekamp,
who built the Icicle Post Office and store on the south side of the Wenatchee/Icicle
1930s to 1940s: Civilian Conservation Corps “Camp Icicle”
From 1934 to 1942, the site was known as Camp Icicle
and was home to the 983rd Company of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
Camp Icicle was constructed with help from local residents and carpenters.
The barracks and buildings housed 200 young men and many of these structures
remain today. During their time, the 983rd Company constructed the ski
lodge at Leavenworth and the original lodge at Stevens Pass, as well as
22 local buildings, 20 bridges along with the placement of over 1,000 signs
1940s to 1950s: Icicle River Ranch
In 1946, the CCC cabins were redeveloped into a private,
family-oriented ranch named Icicle River Ranch. Its owners, Wilfred and
Geraldine Davy, remodeled some of the barracks by removing ends or middle
sections to create smaller cabins. A stay for the “summer ranchers” at
the Icicle River Ranch included organized pack team trips on horseback
to the high country with cooks, guides and even musicians. Horses were
kept in the large meadow during the summer and moved down to the Columbia
Basin in winter.
1950s to 1990s: Camp Field
The property was sold in 1957 to the Yakima Diocese of
the Roman Catholic Church and renamed Camp Field. The site operated as
a camp for young people ages eight and up from 1957 to 1982. The chapel
and seven new dormitories were constructed between 1964 and 1965 and the
Camp Icicle cabins were again renovated. These renovations allowed the
camp to begin dual operations as both a summer camp and an offseason retreat
for adults. About the time Camp Field began operations, Father Joseph O’Grady
from Boston, a young Irish priest, was banished to the upper Leavenworth
Valley for permitting students to question their theology in the Spokane
high school where he taught.
Far from wasting away, Father O’Grady thrived and breathed
new life into Camp Field. Before long the camp was alive with children.
There were horses in the pastures, a swimming pool, a ball field, an archery
range and a camp fire circle for outdoor services. Every child who brought
a musical instrument to camp was encouraged to bring it to the chapel to
accompany Sunday Mass.
Father O’Grady, referred to by some as the “hippie priest,”
was widely loved. He welcomed everybody to communion, regardless of denomination
and performed marriages for anyone, as long as he was sure they were committed
to each other. He held barbecues for the children and joined in their outdoor
activities. For all who knew him, he inspired spiritual reverence along
with compassion, wisdom, fun and humor. When he died in 1983, the valley
The Diocese discontinued operation of the summer camp
in 1982 and began operating the site year-round as the Camp Field Retreat
and Conference Center. Camp Field was the site of many family reunions,
non-profit retreats and religious gatherings.
1990s to Present: Sleeping Lady
The Diocese put the property up for sale in 1991 and
Harriet Bullitt, longtime owner of neighboring property, purchased the
67 acres to preserve the land. She then made plans to redevelop the older
buildings into an environmentally friendly conference facility and mountain
retreat. She engaged Jones & Jones Architects and landscape architects
to design the retreat.
Bullitt named Sleeping Lady after the mountain profile
above the narrow valley. Eighteen original Camp Field buildings were kept
in the new site plan for historical and environmental considerations. Five
of these buildings, including the Eyrie, Rookery, Grotto, Chapel and Flicker,
remain in their original locations. The remaining 13 buildings were moved
to new locations on site. All of the buildings were remodeled to meet or
exceed current building and energy codes. New buildings were constructed
to blend in with the original architectural style and the site was landscaped
with native vegetation.
In January 1993, the business was incorporated as Sleeping
Lady, Inc. and in April 1994, restoration and construction began. The 18
buildings that were original to the site remain today with new construction
bringing the total to 44 finished buildings.
Sleeping Lady opened in August 1995 by hosting Icicle
Creek Music Center’s first annual Icicle Creek Chamber Music Festival.
Since that auspicious beginning, there have been 1,000’s of events and
happenings at Sleeping Lady including concerts, conferences, meetings,
and theatrical performances.
A second phase of development began in 1998 with the addition
of the Fountain Cluster which included ten additional housing rooms, along
with an expansion of Kingfisher Dining Lodge to accommodate 40 additional
dining spaces and the addition of the Quail and Tadpole meeting rooms,
which created meeting space for up to 140 people. The Grasshopper Fitness
Room was also added and O’Grady’s Pantry opened to the public.
In 2001, the development of the Icicle Creek Music Center
(ICMC) facility began. The development was completed in 2003 and involved
a remodeled and expanded office for the ICMC and the Icicle Fund, including
meeting rooms and practice spaces for staff and students. The development
also included the Canyon Wren Recital Hall, three ensemble practice rooms,
three solo practice rooms, eight housing units, and parking for the various
functions and activities.
In 2003, O’Grady’s was expanded to accommodate increased
use and KOHO Broadcasting Studios, a local radio station housed on site
and owned by Harriet Bullitt, added a news room and sales office. The organic
garden was improved to create greater access for guests and to increase
the supply of organic herbs, salad greens, vegetables and berries used
in Sleeping Lady’s kitchens. In 2004, a greenhouse was constructed to extend
the growing season of the organic garden.
In 2007, the fitness room was relocated to a more central
location for Sleeping Lady’s guests. The Mercantile, an extension of the
gift shop, opened in the former fitness space behind O’Grady’s Pantry.
Over time, all of the major facilities on the 67 acre
campus of Sleeping Lady and the Icicle Creek Music Center have been connected
with fiber optics for the efficient use of internet connections as well
as communications and fire detections systems.
In October of 2008 Harriet met with Johnpaul Jones of
Jones and Jones Architects to explore the idea of redefining the Kingfisher
Dining Lodge and the Front Desk area along with the possibility of building
a new recreational building. As those ideas took shape a plan was put in
place to remodel the Kingfisher Dining Lodge with work to commence in the
spring and summer of 2009, followed by the front desk remodel The Kingfisher
Dinging Lodge remodel was completed in July of 2009. Some of the features
include the addition of a bar, the replacement of the serving line with
a serpentine copper and stainless steel servery, a LaCornue range and oven
and a bread/pizza oven behind the line. A separate salad bar and dessert
bar were added to enhance the dining experience as well.
It was decided to enter into a partnership with Solstice
Spa to add additional spa services to our guests. The existing sauna was
removed from the building and a new white cedar dry heat sauna was built
on the deck of the existing building. The changes to the spa building and
the new sauna were completed by the end of summer in 2009.
The front desk remodel was completed in mid September
of 2009. The guest service area was opened up creating a more relaxed and
efficient area for check in and check out. The gift shop has been recreated
to offer the guests a boutique area for purchases and a business center
Excavation and construction began on the recreation building
in October of 2009. This building offers recreation opportunities for guests
of all ages. The building features a small stage for children to act out
puppet shows or plays or can be used to view movies and other activities.
There is an area for arts and crafts as well as billiards and table tennis.
The building is shaped like a traditional barn and will be named the “Play
Barn” This building is scheduled to be finished by spring of 2010.