Our story begins 110 years ago, when Swedish immigrant Erik Bylin began homesteading on 160 acres just above the Columbia River in southwestern Washington. With Homestead Certificate No. 4405 signed by President McKinley himself, the land claim of Bylin was established and duly consummated in conformity to law for the “North East Quarter of Section 23 in Township Three North of Range Eight East of Willamette Meridian in Washington”. The community was previously known as “Heim Dal”, named by Norwegian emigrants who settled the area. Postal authorities translated the name to Home Valley in 1893 at a time when the mail was delivered by rail and the mailbag left on a hook near the tracks as the train sped by.
In the first three years after the land claim was established, the Bylins lived the typical frontier life, with a log home, barn and outbuildings. They lived off the land, which provided food and sustenance for the family. In 1902, the powerful Yacolt fire swept through the Gorge, consuming everything on the land, including the log home and barn. It seemed that all had been lost, but the family took refuge in the waters of the Anderson Slough and lived to tell the tale. Over time Nature regenerated herself and returned to the luscious green she’d once been.
The property originally settled by Bylin has seen continuous family ownership. The previous owner LeRoy Anderson, whose father was Erik Bylin’s first cousin. LeRoy was raised on the land above State Route 14 and attended classes at the one-room schoolhouse in Home Valley that is still standing today. As a child, he would return home from school, harness up the family’s old mare, and deck logs to be hauled to the river at Cook. His childhood days were spent exploring the acreage just west of Wind Mountain.
Several years ago, as LeRoy was nearing retirement, he began contemplating ways to share the beautiful landscape with others. After much consideration, the decision was made to build a campground and RV park on a small portion of the original homestead. There would be nothing else like it in the Columbia River Gorge, a park removed from the highway and the railroad tracks, providing the peaceful serenity that Native Americans found here hundreds of years ago. With assistance from engineer Bruce Powers with David Evans & Associates and over a three-year permitting process, Timberlake Campground and RV Park was created.
From the original Native American stewards of the land to the Scandinavian settlers many years later, Home Valley has served as a haven for those seeking exquisite scenery in a natural setting. Opening in the summer of 2006, Timberlake Campground was developed so that others might share the natural beauty of the land.