In 1833, Dr. Tolmie took a short vacation from his duties at the trading post and made a trip in the direction of the Mountain in quest of "beautiful flowers and superb views."
After the traders came the soldiers, and Fort Steilacoom was established on the Sound to hold for America the land that was America. Among the officers of his outlying military post was a young lieutenant of German birth and adventurous nature who was ambitious to stand upon the summit of the adjacent peak, so in 1857 Lieutenant A. V. Kautz with a few companions advanced against the icy ramparts.
Kautz had an idea that he could make the round trip to the highest point and return in less than a week so he took provisions for only six days. It took him five days to reach the base of the mountain and he never did reach the top altho unprepared and inexperienced as he was he made a brave effort. Returning to the post in rags and halfstarved, Kautz decided he had left nothing on the peak he need return for.
It was not until August of 1870 that the mountain was completely conquered, when General Hazard Stevens and Mr. P. B. Van Trump, both of Olympia, waved the Stars and Stripes from Columbia Crest and spent a miserable night in the steam caves of the crater.
A few years later ( 1883 ) James Longmire, a pioneer of that old school who felt cramped for room if they had neighbors on more than one side of them, blazed a trail up the Nisqually Valley and located a claim, at Longmire Springs near the base of the peak.
With the blazing of this trail and the coming of the prospectors who, lured on by the hope of 'strike', made their way to the very edge of the ice dome, the mountain became better known; and largely thru the efforts of such men as Professor I.C. Russell, Bailey Willis, and John Muir the government realized the value of the area as a national asset and on March 2, 1899, by an act of Congress, an area roughly 18 miles square and containing some 324 square miles of as fine mountain scenery as exists on the face of the earth was set aside for the profit and enjoyment of the people for all time to come.
This park is one of nineteen great natural scenic playgrounds, belonging to the people and administered for them by the National Park Service under the Department of the Interior.
It is the policy of the Park Service to maintain these areas in just as nearly as possible their natural condition for all time to come and at the same time to make them accessible and useable to the hundreds of thousands of people who visit them annually.
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