Nature Notes

Vol. XII August, 1934 No. 8

Highlights of History

(Part IX . . . Conclusion)

In the more recent years of this park's past many changes have occurred. In 1916 the National Park Service - a bureau of the Department of the Interior - was established and Stephen T. Mather was installed as the first director. This move was a fortunate one for these outstanding areas for up to this time the various parks had been administrated with very little central control and by various agencies of the government without regard for unification. The creation of this bureau was destined to bring the opportunities in the national parks definitly to the attention of the public which they were originally designed to serve.

As stated in the last issue of Nature Notes Paradise Inn was opened to the public in 1916 but only the lobby and dining room section was built - additions to this structure coming in later years. Later years also witnessed the construction of a lodge, which today serves in another capacity, the building of the guide house, and in 1931 the new Paradise Lodge and the unit of housekeeping cabins were opened to the public. The Paradise Community House, a government structure, was placed under construction in 1926 and opened to the public in 1929 while the Public Camp Grounds nearby were gradually developed and improved as the demand for this type of free accomodation warranted.

While these things were taking place at Paradise Valley Longmire, headquarters of the park, was also characterized by improvement. In the fall of 1925 the new Administration Bldg. was opened and the government administrative force took over their more modern quarters - the old frame administration building which was obsolete being turned over to the Park Naturalist for development as a museum. Thus had the headquarters of the park expanded from the forest service office at Orting to the log structure at the Nisqualy Entrance, then to the frame structure at Longmire and finally to its present location in the fine building constructed of native stone and logs. The year 1928 witnessed another improvement at Longmire in the dedication of the Community Bldg, near the Public Camp Ground but the popularity of Paradise Valley precluded any major motel development - the former annex of the original National Park Inn (destroyed by a fire of undetermined origin in 1920) serving as the hotel at this point.

Administration Building

In 1931 Yakima Park, which had been known to a comparatively few people previous to this time, was opened to the public - a fine highway, Lodge, Camp ground etc. having been constructed in this vicinity. The Chinook Pass cross-state highway was opened a year later thus making the park accessible to many eastern Washington people who had never had easy access to the area. Plans for the unification of the Paradise and Yakima Park roads have been under way for several years and this brought about development and interest in the Ohanopecosh section of the Park which lies in the extreme southeast corner of the area. When his road and the highway up th west side of the park os complete it will be possible to drive around three sides of the park, only the rugged north side being unavailable to motorists.

Travel in the park has increased mightily. By contrast with the year 1904, when the first record was kept and when 554 people entered the area, the past year of 1931 shows that 293,562 people came to "The Mountain". Although the past two years showed a sharp decline from 1931 indications point to a big season again this summer. The annual gain in travel which has been, with few exceptions, consistent since the first records were kept is larely the reason for the many improvements that have come about. In addition to the roads the "Wonderland Trai," which was first completed around the mountain in 1913, has been greatly improved and many other interesting trails have been constructed to famous spots in the park. All departments of the government organization, as well as of the Rainier Nat'l Park Company, have been hard pressed to keep pace with the demands placed upone them by the visiting public. Culminating these demands came the interest in winter sports in the Paradise Valley area in 1933.

Also, along with wider appreciation of this area, came the development of the naturalist department, started in 1924, to the place where over 225,000 visitors take advantage of its varioius services annually. Thus had this park developed from a spot on the map to a place of national interest.

C. Frank Brockman, Park Naturalist.

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