Nature Notes

Ashford, Washington

Vol. III January-May 1989 No. 1

Nature Notes is issued by the Naturalist Staff of Mount Rainier National Park. Material contained herein may be used freely in any manner, provided credit is given to this pamphlet and the author.
William F. Dengler
Chief Park Naturalist
Neal G. Guse

The Interpretation Division has come up with a slightly different plan for Nature Notes - to have a lead article in each issue on an interesting (to Naturalists and other nature lovers) subject and the remainder of the issue devoted to observations in the park - whether it be flora, fauna, weather, geological, astronomical, etc. If any of these areas are something you are interested in writing about or if you have any observations to report, please contact Koko Schlottman at Longmire. Bill Dengler, Chief Naturalist, asks that Wildlife Observation Cards be sent to his office at Longmire, so that they may be used for phenology information before being sent to the Park Biologist, Stan Schlegel, for tabulation and research.

Thank you for your cooperation (and contributions).

What's in a Name?

"On behalf of the National Park Service I would like to welcome you to Mt. Tahoma National Park." It is with this greeting that I often welcome visitors to Mt. Rainier who are about to embark on an interpretive walk with me. Such a greeting can serve as a segue into the past, to a time when the mighty Cascade stratovolcanoes were not adorned with such plain wrapper Anglo names as Rainier, Hood, Adams and Baker.

While most of us here at the park are familiar with the origin of Mt. Rainier's Euro name, its Native American names and the prolonged struggles over its official U.S.G.S. name (with the city of Tacoma loosing out to Seattle's preference) most of us are not so knowledgeable of Tahoma's neighbors.

To the south of Mt. Rainier lie its closest companions, Mt. Adams, Mount St. Helens and Mt. Hood. Two of these three "sentinels of the Columbia", like Mt. Rainier, received their European names in 1792 from British Naval officers. Mt. Hood was named after Admiral Samuel Hood by watch Lt. William Broughton, a member of Captain George Vancouver's crew aboard H.M.S. Discovery.

Mount St. Helens was named by Captain Vancouver himself. Alleyne Fitzherbert, British emissary to the Court of Madrid, had negotiated a highly favorable settlement regarding the disposition of the Northwest Coast, for both Spain and England claimed sovereignty over this territory. His Majesty, King George, christened Fitzherbert Baron Saint Helens, thus today our famous neighbor is more elegantly named Mount St. Helens rather than Mt. Fitzherbert.

To the east, well inland and tucked behind Mount St. Helens is Mt. Adams. Since this volcano is not visible from the sea, it escaped being named after British dignitaries or officers. Though Lewis and Clark spied this massive peak, oddly enough they failed to name it. However, they did properly name Oregon's Mt. Jefferson, after their boss Thomas, just as Vancouver named Rainier after his superior, the rear admiral Peter Rainier. Instead, the Anglo name was bestowed upon this second highest of Washington peaks by another Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson Farnham in the year 1845. However, it was governor Isaac Steven's Pacific Railroad Expedition of 1853 that formalized the name Mt. Adams. Whether or not the honored Adams is John or John Quincy, I am not certain. It's all in the family anyway, I suppose.

It strikes me as ironic that these majestic Cascade volcanoes are named after European or elite Americans who never even laid eyes upon their namesakes. Just as many prefer the Native American Denali over the Euro-American name McKinley, I too admire the mountains original names: Wyeast instead of Hood, Loo-Wit rather than St. Helens, and Pahto or Klickitat for Adams.

Chris Maun

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