Nature Notes

Vol. VIII January, 1930 No. 1

Historical Notes: Dr. William Fraser Tolmie

Dr. William Fraser Tolmie might be considered as the Park's first "visitor", although in 1833 when he made his memorable journey from the Hudson's Bay post at Nisqually House, Puget Sound, Mt Rainier National Park was not even dreamed of. In fact the possession of the Pacific Northwest was still a matter of dispute between England and the United States. Nevertheless to Doctor Tolmie goes the credit of being the first white man to penetrate the country which is now included within the boundaries of this the sixth area of its kind to be set aside by our government. The object of this early journey was, as he styled it in his diary, a "botanizing expedition" that he hoped would yield certains kinds of medicinal herbs.

To anyone familiar with the northwest section of the Park which was the region penetrated by Doctor Tolmie and which we know today as the "Carbon River District", it is not hard to appreciate the hardships and rigorous nature of such a trip. We cannot help but admire the mettle of these early pioneers and the manner in which they accomplished such great things. The Carbon River Dist. is still a wilderness, visited only by a few people each year -- and yet Tolmie's visit was made almost 100 years ago.

It was on this "botanizing expedition" that Doctor Tolmie discovered a new Saxifrage and the plant now bears his name -- Tolmie's Saxifrage. A more significant monument, if it may be called that, could not be choosen for this Saxifrage is one of the Park's first flowering plants to grew upon the rocky, inhospitable soil which is evacuated by glacial ice. It is a true pioneer and trail blazer in much the same sense as was the man for whom it was named. Tolmie's Peak, in the northwest section of the Park, and a small stream nearby, also bears his name.

Tolmie's Saxifrage

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