Natrona County will replace the popular Nordic Lodge on Casper Mountain after it was condemned earlier this year as structurally unsafe, county officials said Wednesday.

"It served well, it's not going to serve any longer," acting County Parks Director Mike Haigler said.

The lodge was completed in 2003 with a lot of volunteer help, Haigler and County Attorney Eric Nelson said.

It grew from a small building built by a log cabin company, but without the advice of an engineer, and originally was used by skiers.

It evolved into a larger 2,000-square-foot building used by hikers, cyclists, users of the biathlon course, and for social events including weddings and funerals -- uses that were weren't anticipated, Haigler

"It's 365 [-day] use," Nelson said.

That came to an end in late May.

That month, engineer Robert Lower, then County Parks Director Tim Petrea and County Planning and Zoning Director Jason Gutierrez toured the building and site and found some  serious problems:

  • The craw space is too small and the two crawlspace vents didn't adequate ventilate the structure, especially in the winter when snow covers them.
  • The wood-framed floor in the east end of the building was not ventilated, and needed to be replaced by a concrete slab.
  • The interior walls needed replacement.
  • Roofs on the north and south ends of the building are in poor condition.
  • The log walls have settled significantly due to drying and shrinkage of the wood.
  • The site is poorly drained.
Tom Morton, Townsquare Media
Tom Morton, Townsquare Media

Nelson said the building has been valued at $668,000, but it making it usable would cost 45% of that, not counting the annual maintenance cost of $15,000.

So the commission, after a lot of thought about the building's condition and usage, decided to demolish the lodge and replace it.

"It's inevitable that we'd get to this decision," commissioner Brook Kaufman said.

Meanwhile, the county will install a temporary shed for Nordic Trail users.

Demolition may occur by the end of the month, Nelson said. The county will save mementos in the building, he added.

The county has retained an engineering firm to design a new lodge, and it should be completed by next fall.

How the county will pay for the building is not clear yet, Kaufman and Nelson said, but it's probable that optional one-cent sales tax revenues will be used.

The county also wants to talk with the City of Casper because the building is on city land, and the county hopes to draw interest from groups that use the lodge, such as the Natrona County School District and the County Recreation Board, Kaufman said.

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