In 1920, an eleven-acre grove of towering fir trees at Southeast Fifty-second and Duke was purchased for use as a campground. The acreage was fronted by Duke Street—then a dirt road—and was in need of much attention and hard work. One pioneer member reminisced, “The grounds had many bushes and plants, like hazelnut bushes, tiger lilies, and poison oak!” Willing workers pitched in to clear the underbrush and beautify the grounds for the honor and glory of God.
When the expansive landscaping of the grounds was first started, the founder took an active role. Florence Crawford had an eye for beauty, and she would say to her helpers, “Put the begonias here, the fuchsias over there, and border this winding path with variegated petunias. We will put the climbing rose bushes along the outside fence.”
Today, tall trees overshadow an expansive lawn. Paths lead in different directions: to the large stone fountain, to a lily pond opposite it, and to the restaurant and outdoor patios. Choice shrubs and ornamental trees contribute toward making the place a scene of distinctive beauty.
At night the campground does not lose its attraction. Floodlights point toward the tabernacle, illuminating the words, “Jesus the Light of the World.” A ten-foot, gold-colored star glistens above the sign. Decorative lights glow along the main path leading from the gated entrance on Duke Street to the front doors of the tabernacle. Of special beauty after dark is the illuminated fountain which throws rainbow-colored sprays into the night sky.
Over the years, many have worked to keep the grounds in good condition. For several decades, thousands of annuals were grown in a greenhouse on the property and transplanted into the flowerbeds in the spring. Though the greenhouse is no longer there, and some of the annuals replaced with perennials and blooming shrubs, the campground continues to be well-known as one of Portland’s beauty spots.