Nature Notes

Vol. VI August 15, 19228 Summer Season No. 4


Mount Rainier National Park is famous for its glaciers, its flower fields, its forests, wild life and volcanic features--yet no less interesting is the history of its early development. One would scarcely realize today that the present state of development owes its origin to an accident.

In 1883 James Longmire, a pioneer of the old school who had come west from Indiana in an ox-drawn "prairie schooner", made an assault upon Rainier with two companions. Theirs was the third party to reach the summit of the Mountain but it was the descent of their party that is of particular historical interest. Threading their way back to civilization along the Nisqually River, for there was no trail then, night overtook them at about the present location of the Longmire Camp Grounds. Here they made camp and, as was the custom, hobbled their horses and turned them out to seek forage during the night. Their wanderings in search of food took them to a broad meadow replete with luscious grasses and it was here that James Longmire found his animals the next morning. Rounding them up he noticed numerous natural springs bubbling up from the soil and tasting their waters he immediately noticed the mineral qualities which they possessed. Probably he visioned the establishment of a second Carlsbad at this point--at any rate he carried several jugs of the water to Yelm and transported them to Washington, D.C. for analysis.

And so it was that the mineral springs that James Longmire discovered quite by accident led to the popularity and development of what is now Mount Rainier National Park. He established a homestead which was later expanded to Longmire Hotel. Trails and finally roads were built to accommodate the ever increasing number of visitors to the region. Tent camps finally grew into the present hotel system--all probably owe their origin to the whims of James Longmire's horses. If they had wandered in the opposite direction perhaps Mount Rainier National Park would still be an unknown quantity--who knows?

By C. F. Brockman, Information Ranger.


The other day Superintendent Tomlinson returned from the Carbon River region in the northwest part of the Park with an amusing story of "Teddy" the little pet--or pest--bear cub that ran riot among the food caches at Longmire Springs. Naturally we were interested to know how "Teddy" was getting along.

It seems that Boy Scout Troop #65 from Seattle who are building a foot trail over Knapsack Pass returned home earlier than usual one afternoon and found Teddy up to his ears in good things to eat. The boys, having caught the culprit in the act, enacted a swift punishment that probably will cure Teddy of further depredations upon the Scout's larder. Consequently the Park Rangers at Mowich Lake were surprised when a delegation of the boys visited the Ranger Station and delivered, neatly done up in a burlap sack, one Teddy bear for safe keeping. Evidently Teddy hasn't changed a great deal.

By C. F. Brockman, Information Ranger.

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