When Melinda and Travis Woodward bought the Steamboat Inn in 2017, the move was intended to secure their “forever” home.

So far, their dream has seen more than its fair share of struggles.

First was the Umpqua North Complex Fire, which ignited in August 2017, barely three months after the couple closed their purchase of the Steamboat Inn. Two years later in February 2019, the so-called “Snowpocalypse” knocked out the water system to the Inn.

In March 2020 — on their scheduled opening weekend — statewide closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic put the Steamboat Inn on indefinite hiatus.

The Woodwards were able to withstand the economic impacts of those first three interruptions, which included caring for a staff of 22 employees.

Then the Archie Creek Fire put the family of four — and the Steamboat Inn staff — in a major bind.

The Archie Creek Fire burned underground water supply systems to all three of the Inn’s properties: the restaurant and River View Cabins located adjacent to Highway 138 East, the Campwater Houses and employee housing directly across the North Umpqua River in the Mott Bridge neighborhood, and the Hideaway Cottages nestled off Steamboat Creek Road.

“They’re all melted,” Melinda Woodward said of the water supply systems. She said that their insurance for the Inn does not protect against damaged underground lines.

Additionally, one of the River View Cabins sustained heavy water damage during structure protection efforts.

Initial quotes for repairing the water supply systems totals nearly $200,000. Woodward said they had not yet received an estimate for the water damage to the affected cabin.

Although there were minor interruptions during their first three seasons of owning the resort, the past 8 months have been difficult, to say the least. When they were finally able to open near the end of May — almost three months later than planned — business was booming.

“We finally opened up Memorial Day weekend, and the summer was amazing,” Melinda Woodward said. “We couldn’t keep up.”

The Woodwards met while working together at Shadow Hills Country Club in Junction City. For Travis Woodward, an avid fly fisherman, the dream of owning the Steamboat Inn was “a bucket list item.”

Melinda Woodward said the couple took out “one big fat one” of a loan and purchased the Steamboat Inn for $1.755 million. The Inn is not just the family’s business but also their residence, a home for Travis, 42, and Melinda Woodward, 46, as well as their daughters, McKenzie, 12, and Carmen, 6.

Now, the family is scrambling to try to have the resort’s properties available for their regularly scheduled opening in March of 2021.

“We have applied for (any assistance) we can find,” Melinda Woodward said. “We’re chasing every possible lead we can. I’m doing everything I can to save my business and my home, plus 22 employees who are out of work.

“If we can’t reopen and can’t do the repairs, this will follow us forever.”

Melinda Woodward launched a fundraising campaign at www.gofundme.com/saving-steamboat. As of Thursday afternoon, the campaign had received pledges of more than $30,000 dollars. Taking that step was difficult, she said.

“We were very proud that we have been able to weather each storm on our own and come back stronger as a family, team, and business,” Melinda Woodward said in her request on the website. “But we are going to have to ask for help this time. Asking for help does not come easy for us but we need to put preserving Steamboat Inn for future generations ahead of our pride.”

Donovan Brink can be reached at dbrink@nrtoday.com and 541-957-4219.

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Cops and Courts Reporter

Donovan Brink is the cops and courts reporter for The News-Review.

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