01/26/2012 10:32 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Treehouse Pioneer Creates Ewok World in Rural Oregon

In 1974, fresh out of the army, Michael Garnier went to rural Oregon to try to make a living off the woods. He tried making furniture, fences, pole barns and selling organic, psychedelic picture propellers, but finally it was a treehouse that got him all the attention.

Modeled after the treehouse he had once built for his kids, his first treehouse B&B was completed in 1990 and people began paying to stay. But the county building instructors wouldn't permit it and told Garnier to tear it down.

Instead, he set out to prove it was structurally sound by performing his own stress test. He invited 66 people, 2 dogs and a cat inside (for a total of 10,847 pounds) . The structure held, but the inspectors weren't swayed.

Garnier continued to build 8 more treehouses, but without proper permission to use them as lodging, instead of renting them he asked guests to buy a $75 t-shirt first. Finally, nearly a decade later he had his permits, and by then he'd created an entire world in the sky.

Today he has 9 treehouses, 20 staircases, 5 or 6 bridges, several platforms and zip lines for rapid descent and at least one fireman's pole. Some of his treehouses even have toilets, running water and showers, though he warns guests to "stand when they flush".