Nature Notes

Vol. XI September -- 1933 No. 7

Dr. Wm. Fraser Tolmie

A hundred years have passed since Dr. William Fraser Tolmie - then a young man but recently from his native Scotland - first looked upon the wild but gloriously beautiful region that bordered the shores of Puget Sound. But a few months before - on May 30, 1833 - he had assisted in the establishment of the Hudson's Bay Trading Post known as Fort Nisqually, the first permanent settlement in the Puget Sound area. Thus the name of Tolmie was affixed to this region at the very inception of the white man's settlement here. And as the years rolled by and the country prospered and grew in importance in the eyes of two great nations - England and America - so also the name of Tolmie took on greater significance among the pioneers who had migrated to this region.

"A noble man, honorable in his dealings, courteous in his intercourse and forebearing with his enemies." So wrote Ezra Meeker who, like many others of the early settlers, knew and respected this man who pioneered and worked with them in the development of a new land. And it is highly fitting and proper that this illustrious name is still associated with the Northwest in its continued development. The Honorable Simon Fraser Tolmie, son of the illustrious pioneer to whom this historical issue of Nature Notes is dedicated, is premier of our neighbor, the Canadian province of British Columbia.

Historically, Dr. William Fraser Tolmie occupies a prominent place in the annals of the Puget Sound region. It was he who, late in August and early in September of 1833, penetrated the forest wilderness that surrounded "The Mountain" and finally stood, on September 2, 1833, upon a peak just below the shining, ice clad summit of Mount Rainier. This peak now bears his name for Dr. Tolmie was the first white man to set foot in the region now included in Mount Rainier National Park. The page from his diary as reproduced from a photostat copy of the original tells the story of the climax of this adventure in the words of this man who was destined to precede, by many ears, thousands of others who were to be equally impressed by the regal beauty of the old volcano.

Old Fort Nisqually, the place from which Dr. Tolmie started on his memorable journey to Mount Rainier, was moved about one mile inland in 1843. Two of the buildings of this re-located site are still standing and may be readily seen. One is the factor's residence and the other, which is credited with being the oldest building in the State of Washington, served various uses of a utility nature during the early days at this pioneer trading post. This building was built in 1843.

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