Little things often change the course of history. It was so in the case of Mt. Rainier National Park, for the wrecking of the "Peacock" on the Columbia bar prevented the Wilke's Expedition from making an intended climb to the summit of Mt. Rainier and a thorough study of the region about this great volcano. Undoubtedly such an exploration would have been fruitful of many interesting facts regarding this region. Likewise the injury to one member of the Fort Nisqually party served to hold Dr. Wm. Fraser Tolmie in this area for several months longer than were his original intentions - culminating in his "botanizing expedition" which was to give him the honor of being the first white man to enter the region which is now Mount Rainier National Park. Delving still further into the effects of little things in history, we come to the third successful ascent of Mount Rainier participated in by VanTrump, serving as guide, James Longmire, serving as packer, and a Mr. Bagley who had come west with the express purpose of standing upon the summit of this great "fire mountain".
This group made the summit and had returned to their base camp along the Nisqually at about a point opposite from the present camp grounds at Longmire. There, several days earlier, they had hobbled their horses but the animals were not readily found. It was not until later that Longmire, still looking for his wandering animals, came upon them in a dank meadow filled with lush grasses and characterized by the presence of numerous warm, mineralized springs that bubbled from the earth. Longmire discovered the germ of an idea in these natural waters. He dreamed a dream of the development of this area in the wilderness as a sort of local Spa where those weak in body and spirit might come to repair their ills by copious consumption of the mineralized waters. With this in mind, James Longmire retraced his steps from his ranch at Yelm to this spot on the Nisqually several months later and staked the boundaries of his claim - an area of 20 acres - to which he later secured title under the mineral act. And so, in 1883, the foundation of the first permanent settlement in the area, that was later to become this national park, was laid. Longmire Springs, as it was known in later years, finally became the site for National Park Service headquarters of the park.
James Longmire had built a trail from his Yelm ranch to Bear Prairie, by way of Mishal Mountain, in 1861. It was over this trail that he had led the members of the first two successful parties to reach the summit to the base of the mountain. In 1884, taking the first stop in the development of his claim, he constructed a spur trail from his original path through the wilderness to the springs and put up the first buildings in the area. This meager route served as a means of penetrating to this region for several years while Longmire slowly developed the claim to a point where it began to assume some degree of permanency. In 1890, with the help of his sons, grandsons and several Indians, the first road was begun and also this year witnessed the construction of a small log hotel. Measured by present standards in the matter of national park accommodations this original building was anything but a handsome edifice. It was but 20 x 30 feet in size and of two stories, the lower one with its puncheon floors serving as the lobby and the second floor containing five tiny guest rooms. But meager as was this crude beginning it, nevertheless, served to house the first "tourists" to the region. In the following year (1891) the road begun the year before was completed, and it is certain that after a rough passage ever this homespun highway the first visitors to Longmire Springs welcomed the sight of a small hotel in the wilderness and the fragrance of the meals which were their fare while so journing in this locality.
True, these first visitors were drawn to the region by reports of the mineral springs but it is equally true that most of them went away enthralled by the beauty of the surrounding area and the varied interests that they found here. It was not long before the scenic beauty of "The Mountain" and the lesser ranges that clustered about its base exceeded in public interest that of the springs which had served as the original magnet upon the minds of the people. As such interest grew wider, public attention was drawn to Mt. Rainier and, as the Northern Pacific Railway had also made gestures toward attracting visitors to the mountain by building, in 1885 under the supervision of Baily Willis, a trail from the railway terminus at Wilkinson to Spray Park and down the west side of the mountain, it was seen linked in leading minds of the day with previously created National Parks. (*)
(*) Yellowstone National Park was created in 1872; Yosemite National Park was created in 1890; Sequoia National Park was created in 1890 and General Grant National Park was created in 1890.
This region was further favored by visits of several influential men, world travelers of renown; Professor Zittel, a German geologist, and James Bryce, member of the English Parliament, who, in written statements to congressional leaders of America urged that "this area like the Yosemite Valley and the geyser region of the upper Yellowstone be reserved by the United States government and treated as a nattional park". Reports of other well known scientists and laymen at about the some time duplicated, in general tone, the statement of Zittel and Bryce - all of which had an important bearing upon subsequent events. In 1894, a concerted movement toward the establishment of this area as a national park was set in motion by the combined efforts of the National Geographic Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Geographical Society of America, the Sierra Club and the Appalachian Mountain Club. Culminating these efforts was the introduction by Senator Watson Squire of the State of Washington of a bill proposing the creation of "Washington National Park" (1894). In his speech asking for the creation of this park, Senator Squire paid tribute to the educational advantages of the area as exemplified by the great glacial system on "The Mountain", the marvelous forests about its base and the colorful wild flower fields. (*) He recommended in his original bill that the eastern boundary of the proposed park be the summit of the Cascade Range, and to further bring the character of the region to the attention of his colleagues, he quoted statements from many scientific men as an indication of this area's worth in regard to the standards of excellence necessary for its being included as a national park.
(*) See Congressional Record, page 7878, July 26, 1894.
This bill, of course, did not pass immediately and for several years Senator Squire worked toward the goal he had set in 1894. In 1809, however, Congress acted favorably upon it, although several changes were made in the original structure of the bill. The name was changed from Washington National Park to Mount Rainier National Park (**), and the eastern boundary was moved westward several miles to an arbitrary line (***). It was this bill that finally passed both houses of Congress and was signed by President McKinley on March 2, 1899, thus creating Mount Rainier National Park as the fifth of such nationally famous areas. (****)
(**) The change of name was added by Representative Lacy. Congressional Record, 1899. Page 2667.
(***) The original east boundary remained approximately the same until 1931 when the east boundary was drawn along the summit of Crystal Mountains, a portion of the Cascade summit from Chinook Pass to near the headwaters of Laughing Water Creek and thence down the crest of the ridge south of this latter stream to the south boundary which had also been extended to include Ohanapecosh Hot Springs.
(****) The first written record of local opinion relative to the establishment of Mt. Rainier National Park is found in a communication received on January 21, 1888 by the City of Tacoma requesting it to memoralize the Territorial Legislature to ask Congress to set aside land within twenty miles of Mount Rainier as a national park. (page 414 - "History of Tacoma" by Herbert Hunt)
During the period of negotiations in Washington things within the area in question developed slowly but surely. James Longmire improved his claim at the Springs, continued to build additional buildings, and in 1895 a trail to Paradise Valley, which was already attracting attention because of the beauty of its wild flower fields, was constructed (**). This trail followed the Nisqually River to the snout of the glacier and thence up the east wall of the canyon, approximately the same route as the present glacier trail, to Paradise.
(**) The name Paradise Valley was applied to the old glacial valley through which flows the Paradise River below Sluiskin Falls in 1885 by Mrs. Elcain Longmire on the event of her first visit to this region. Seeing the colorful wild flowers which grew there in such profusion she exclaimed "Oh, it looks just like Paradise!" (According to Len Longmire). The name persisted and has since been adopted for the entire region in this vicinity.
The establishment of this area as a national park did not provide for any organization for its protection or development. The National Park Service did not come into being until 1916 and no protective force was in operation in the the area until 1905 when the care of the park was given to the U. S. Forest Service. Mr. Grenville Allen, son of O. D. Allen who had settled in the Nisqually Valley in the late 80's, was supervisor of the Rainier National Forest (***) which completely surrounded the park. The protection of the area was entrusted to his organization. This continued in force until 1910.
-oOo-(***) The Rainier National Forest was, in 1933, consolidated with the Columbia National Forest and Snoqualmie National Forest.
In addition to the need for protection the policies of development which brought the area to the status of a nationa park soon began to receive attention and in consequence the Amry Engineer Corps was drafted to fill this need. Under John Zug a route for a road was surveyed from eastern Washington to the flanks of "The Mountain" in 1904. This route had as its objective a point in the vicinity of Ohanapecosh Park on the east slope of Mt. Rainier. It touched the region in the vicinity of Bumping Lake and crossed the Cascades south of Chinook Pass, but the highway which this survey outlined was never put under construction. It was not until 1931 that a highway from eastern Washington to the slopes of Mt. Rainier was completed and opened to the public (*).
(*) Chinook Pass - Yakima Park Highway connecting Yakima and Enumclaw.
Eugene Ricksecker, a civilian engineer in the employ of the Army Engineer Corps, was also commissioned in 1904 to survey a route to Mt. Rainier from western Washington. Both these surveys (Zug's and Ricksecker's) were brought about by the untiring efforts of Hon. Francis Cushman, of Tacoma, member of the House of Representatives. Ricksecker's survey was completed about the same time as was Zug's and the plan was to eventually combine the two routes in a cross state road through the park. As stated Zug's route was never placed under construction though Ricksecker's road was begun in 1906.
It is interesting to note, in passing, that Ricksecker's survey, with very few exceptions, has been adhered to throughout - even to this day when mdoern vehicles and modern modes of travel have reequired widening and raising the standard of this highway. This is a tribute to the idealism as well as the engineering skill of Eugene Ricksecker who was one of the first engineers to appreciate the importance of preserving the scenic beauty of the area through which a highway passwd and in making the most of tis scenic attractions. Ricksecker Point on the highway he surveyed is named for him.
Representative Cuchman had succeeded in getting a sum of $240,000.00 for the original construction of the Paradise Valley road. Until this road was open to Longmire the only means of getting into the area was via the original road constructed in 1890 and 1891 by the Longmires. In 1906 a road suitable for use by horses and wagons was available as far as Narada Falls. Automobiles were driven to Longmire in 1908, to the Glacier Bridge in 1910 and to Narada Falls in 1912, and the first car to enter Paradise Valley negotiated this bumpy highway late in the summer of 1912, although the public was not permitted to drive to drive to this point until 1915 - horses and wagons serving as transportation to the valley before that time. (*)
(*) The first automotive vehicle to reach Paradise Valley under its own power was driven by Mr. Lynn Miller. Mr. E. S. Hall, then superintendent of the park, and Edward Allen were passengers. This was in Aug. 1912.
In October 1912 a group of men which included the president of the United States - William Howard Taft - visited Mt. Rainier National Park. The trip was sponsored by the Tacoma Chamber of Commerce and they made their way in automobiles over the Nisqually Highway to a point about two miles below the site of Paradise Inn where the cars finally bogged down in the mud. The automobile in which President Taft was riding was hitched to a team of mules and pulled into Paradise Park. The rest of the group were forced to get to their destination as best they could.
Mr. Taft enjoyed the trip immensely but his aid, Mr. Archie Butt, was considerably worried lest the president be injured as the road was at the time narrow, rough and dangerous. Mr. E. S. Hall, now U. S. Commissioner for the Park and that time Superintendent of the area, from whom this information was obtained, stated on one occasion when the mules had difficulty pulling the presidential car from a particularly large mud hole in the road, Mr. Taft laughingly remarked, "I guess I'd better get out and put my shoulder to the wheel."
William Edward Taft is the only chief executive of our country to visit Mount Rainier National Park while in office.
The era in which the U. S. Forest Service was in charge of the protection and administration of the area came to an end on December 31, 1909. During the years when Mr. Grenville Allen was acting superintendent of the park certain forest rangers made regular patrols into the area (*) but these duties were in addition to their regular assignments in the National Forest. It was not until January 1, 1910 (whcn Mr. E. S. Hall was appointed superintendent) that any one man was given the responsibility for the care and development of the park. Mr. Hall took office on that date and, as he did not divide this duty with the supervision over some nearby forest, as in the case of Mr. Allen, he may be regarded as the first park superintendent. Mr. Hall's headquarters were in the log building which still stands at the east of the Nisqually Entrance gate - this cabin serving both as park headquarters and entrance station for serveral years. (**)
(*) Forest Rangers assigned to patrol in the park before any park ranger positions were authorized were: William McCullough, (Assistant Forest Ranger, Longmire-Paradise District. He served for two summers seasons from May 15, 1903 to September 30, 1907.) and Alfred B. Courad (Deputy Forest Ranger, Fairfax, Washington. He served the Carbon River-Spray Park area during the summer seasons from May 15, 1903 to October 31, 1906).
Permanent Park Rangers include Oscar Brown, the first park ranger (App. November 12, 1906 - resigned December 1908); Thomas O'Farrell (App. July 10, 1908 - resigned September 30, 1917); Samuel Estes (App. May 1, 1908 - Resigned Feb. 23, 1912); Harry G. Greer (App. Feb. 24, 1912 - Resigned June 30, 1913); John B. Flett (App. July 1, 1913 - Resigned Nov. 9, 1921); Rudolph L. Reese (App. Sept. 21, 1914 - Resigned Mar. 9, 1918); Herman Barnett (App. Oct. 1, 1917 - still serving); Wm. Stafford (App. Oct. 1, 1917 - Resigned Apr. 28, 1920); C. E. Fish (App. June 16, 1918 - Resigned Apr. 12, 1921); Claude Tice (App. June 13, 1920 - Resigned Mar. 1, 1925); James R. Brantner (App. May 9, 1921 - Resigned Dec. 4, 1925); Floyd Schmoe (App. June 20, 1922 - promoted to Park Naturalist on Nov. 1, 1924 - Resigned position of Park Naturalist Aug. 31, 1928); Wm. Baldwin (App. June 1, 1923 - Resigned Mar. 31, 1928); Carl Tice (App. Oct. 1, 1923 - still serving); Harold Hall (App. June 16, 1924 - still serving); Harry Nelson (App. May 16, 1925 - Resigned Feb. 28, 1927); Frank Greer (App. Oct. 1, 1925 - still serving); Preston Macy (App. June 1, 1926 - designated Custodian of Olympus National Monument July 1, 1935 and still serving in that capacity); John Invis (App. June 1, 1926 - still serving); Oscar Sodergren (App. Mar. 6, 1927 - still serving); John L. Richard (App. Apr. 6, 1928 - still serving); Charles B. Browne (App. Oct. 1, 1929 - still serving); William Butler (App. May 1, 1936 - still serving).
(**) Superintendent of Mt. Rainier National Park are as follows:
During the early years of the park the entrance fee was $5.00 per automobile but this was gradually modified to the present fee of $1.00 per car. The permit issued for that sum is good for the year in which it is purchased. It is also interesting to note that women were not allowed to drive over park roads until 1916.
Previous to the survey and construction of the Paradise Highway, an evidence for the need of accommodations of some sort in the higher sub-alpine parks was noted. People were coming to the region in increasing numbers by means of horses and wagons over the rough road from Puget Sound cities, that went over Mishal Mountain. Much of this highway was of corduroy construction and two days were required to make the trip to Longmire Springs - parties stopping for the night enroute at Eatonville. It was in the late 90's that Major Skinner operated a tent camp known as "Camp of the Clouds" on the east shoulder of Alta Vista. For several years this served as accommodation for the general public, who hiked over the trail from Longmire. Skinner abandoned this venture at about the time of the Alaska gold rush, and John Reese took over the enterprise. Instead of utilizing the site on Alta Vista, however, Reese selected another on the ridge that runs southwest from the present log ranger cabin, which is known today as Theosophy Ridge. Reese's coming to Paradise Valley was in the year 1897, and he gradually developed this enterprise until it became a well known objective in Mount Rainier National Park. Accommodations were provided in tents with only one or two frame buildings, these frame structures having been built in later years. Until 1915 Reese's Camp served as host to hundreds of people, who at first hiked over the trail from Longmire Springs and later came with horses and wagons over a road which was being built into Paradise Valley. With the end of the 1915 season came the end of the era of Reese's Camp for the highway was opened to public auto travel at the beginning of that period. The Rainier National Park Company was organized and Paradise Inn was constructed in 1916. It was formally opened to the public on July 1, 1917.
Other attempts to furnish accommodations similar to Reese's Camp in the sub-alpine regions were made as the road to Longmire Springs was improved and became better known. From 1908 to 1915 James Hall operated a tent camp in Indian Henry's Hunting Ground, which, at that time, rivaled Paradise Valley in popularity. Road development to the latter place however, continued to develop while Indian Henry's as a hotel resort was abandoned at the end of the 1915 season. Today there are no accommodations, other than the shelter cabin provided by the National Park Service for hikers at Indian Henry's, but the beauty of the place annually attracts many people who hike the four and one half miles from the West Side Highway or the six and one half miles from Longmire Springs. It is here that one finds Mirror Lake, a small glacial tarn, in whose glassy surface is mirrored an almost perfect reflection of the great snow-clad volcano. Because of this fact Indian Henry's Hunting Ground is a mecca for photographers.
With the interest on the part of the public which resulted in the establishment of paying hotels at Longmire and at Paradise Valley and the activity of the government in the construction of roads, the needs for an administrative force became evident. As already stated, Mr. Grenville Allen, supervisor of the Rainier National Forest, served in the dual capacity of supervisor of the Rainier National Forest and acting superintendent of the Park - this duty being terminated when Mr. E. S. Hall was given authority as superintendent over the park. However the National Park Service had not as yet come into being. The parks that were then in existence were administered in various ways and no unified control of these areas was in existence. Exclusive jurisdiction over the park area had been ceeded to the federal government by the Washington State Legislature on March 16 1901 and on June 30, 1916 (39th Stat. 243) for this action was finally accepted by Congress to pave the way for proper administration in line with contemplated formation of a new bureau in the Department of the Interior - the National Park Service - which was to have supervision and control over all national parks. Stephen Tying Mather was named the first director of this new government organization.
An active conservationist and lover of the outdoors who had had contact with most of the existing national parks of the day through his association with the Sierra Club of California, Mr. Mather attacked his new duties - after turning over the responsibilities of his own private enterprise to subordinates in his company - with a vim. He selected as his assistant a young lawyer who was working in Washington at the time, this man being Horace Albright who was later to succeed Mr. Mather as director of the Park Service. During Mr. Mather's term as director the National Parks advanced to a high state of appreciation on the part of the general public and the plan was widely copied by several foreign nations. Early difficulties of administration were overcome, new features were introduced, development projects came into being, the standards of personnell were raised and, in general, these years were among the most fruitful in the park service. Mr. Mather donated considerable from his private fortune to the achievement of his goal and when he resigned in January, 1929 on account of ill health he had considerably raised the standards of the parks and their place in the minds of the American people. He died about a year later, on January 23, 1930.
The foundation that Mr. Mather had laid served as a solid basis upon which later developments were constructed. Mount Rainier National Park had shared in the features of development during Mr. Mather's term of office, and when Mr. Albright succeeded him and began carrying on this work this park continued to grow and develop as public patronage and appreciation responded.
In 1924 much of the Park's utilitarian developments were under way or were well in mind. It was at this time that a new feature of park activity was introduced in this region - the naturalist department. Like all national parks Mt. Rainier and the region immediately surrounding it was given that status because of its several outstanding features which are of the highest type in their respective fields. The superlative nature of these things is not to be duplicated any where in the United States. Mt. Rainier National Park contains the country's largest glacial system radiating from a single peak and of course the largest glaciers to be found anywhere in the 48 states are located on this great cone. The great volcano itself, in addition to providing scenery of the most spectacular nature, is evidence of nature's force in her wildest moods for this mountain, while not the highest in the country when measured from sea level, rises higher above its immediate base than any other in the United States, and in that light takes its place among the greatest of the world's peaks. Likewise the great variety of altitudinal range, with its consequent changes in plant and animal life, brings much into this small area that is representative of the flora and fauna of the four North American life zones, viz. Transition, Canadian, Hudsonian and Arctic-Alpine. This feature is further enhanced by the great variety of habitat characteristic of the rugged contour of this superb region and, in addition, there are numerous minor things of note such as the colorful wild flower fields, the dense humid forests and numerour lesser geological examples. It was because of these outstanding features that Mt. Rainier National Park was established. Its maximum value, as a national park, to the American people could not be achieved unless these superb evidences of nature's forces were properly understood by the visitors that were coming into the area in ever increasing numbers. In view of this urgent need the position of park naturalist was created in 1924. The park naturalist was made responsible for the study of the scientific aspects of the region and their interpretation to the visiting public in line with similar developments in other national parks.
Mr. J. B. Flett, teacher of botany and geology in the Tacoma public schools, had been engaged as park ranger in 1913, and while he contributed to a better understanding of the flora of the region by his extensive collections in this phase of science, culminating in his publication "Flora of Mt. Rainier National Park" which was published by the government printing office, the nature of his duties were such that it was not possible for him to enlarge this field to the extent of interpretation of the area's natural features. In 1920 Mr. Charles Landes, teacher in the Seattle schools, was engaged on a temporary basis for summer work in this line and began laying additional stones in the foundation of an adequate educational plan, but it was not until 1924 that the educational work was recognized as a distinct department in the park administration and this work put upon a plane in line with other already established departments for the protection, development and maintenace of the area. Mr. Floyd Schmoe, then a park ranger, was given the position of park naturalist. Mr. Schmoe developed the work that was begun by Mr. Flett and Mr. Landes and continued in the capacity of park naturalist until August 30, 1928, when he was succeeded by C. Frank Brockman who had served during that summer as temporary park ranger.
The scope of this department developed rapidly due to public demand. Educational and scientific work in all the parks was further stimulated when Dr. Harold C. Bryant was appointed Assistant Director of the National Park Service, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., in 1930. This phase of National Park activity is now one of the outstanding features of these areas.
In 1923, when the present superintendent - Mr. O. A. Tomlinson - took over the various responsibilities of the area, development in all lines of park activities was very rapid. The Paradise Highway was widened and improved and put in a state of final completion in the fall of 1929; new trails were constructed and public camp grounds established at certain centers of interest to the general public; telephone lines were improved; the Rainier National Park Company enlarged their facilities, constructing the new Paradise Lodge and Sunrise Lodge in 1930 and many new housekeeping cabins were built at the same time at Longmire, Paradise and Yakima Park; the West Side Highway was begun in 1925 from near the Nisqually Entrance and on September 2, 1933 the new Mowich Entrance in the northwest section of the park was dedicated with appropriate ceremonies of an historical nature. The Yakima Park Highway was begun in 1929 and opened to the public at the beginning of the 1931 summer season; the eastern boundary of the park was moved east to the summit of the Cascades in 1931 and the Chinook Pass Highway, which linked Yakima and Enumclaw, was opened to travel in 1931 thus bringing a cross-state route through the park. The most recent road development was undertaken in 1932. This consisted of original work on the highway that will eventually join the Paradise Highway, at Inspiration Point, with the Ohanapecosh District and the Chinook Pass road, at Cayuse Pass. The Ohanapecosh section of the park, long an isolated region in the area was tapped by modern highway in 1933 and opened to the public in that year, and the Bridge Clinic, which operates the hotel at Ohanapecosh Hot Springs, was granted a franchise for the supply of hotel and related facilities in that place, similiar to that which the Rainier National Park Company enjoys for other sections in the park.
As evidence of public faith in the national park idea, especially as it applies to this particular park, the annual travel has increased regularly throughout the years since the first of our visitors jolted over the rough road to Longmire Springs in the early 90's. On only a few occasions has there been any decrease from previous years and this decrease can be traced logically to certain unrelated factors such as the World War and the depression of the early 1950's.
Recently winter sports, which since 1920 have been a minor factor in the park's attendance, showed a marked increase in popularity, culminating with the government's keeping the highway open to Paradise Valley in the winter of 1936-37 (*).
(*) Private automobiles were permitted to drive to Narada Falls where a parking area was maintained by the National Park Service. Shuttle busses operated on regular schedule from Narada to Paradise by the Rainier National Park Company.
Thus has this region grown in popularity and public service since the day when Captain George Vancouver first saw the shimmering glacial slopes of Mt. Rainier upon the horizon from the deck of the "Discovery". Through the days of exploration and settlement of the Pacific Northwest, as this region grew to take its place among the favored regions of the world, so has Mt. Rainier become more deeply imbodded in the hearts of all who knew this greet mountain. In its history, which encompasses all the vagaries and foibles, the idealism and retrospection of man and nature, "The Mountain" rises as a great monument to nature's forces which have served to inspire: all men through the years by its rugged grandeur and stoic beauty.
TRAVEL IN MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK
* Note: Estimated -- no record kept.
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