Nature Notes

Vol. VIII April, 1930 No. 4

James Longmire

The third ascent of "The Mountain" had been successful and the party, consisting of P. B. Van Trump (who with Stevens made the first successful ascent), Mr. Bayley of the U. S. G. S. and James Longmire, made camp along the Nisqually near its rocky bar. Then the horses were hobbled, camp duties performed and the men turned in for the night. But while they slept the horses forsook the rocky river bar in search of better pasture and finally discovered, a short distance away, a small meadow that was replete with luscious grasses. Here, after a search, James Longmire found the animals the following morning and this led to his discovery of numerous springs whose waters were warm or mineralized and straight-way he visualized the possibilities of their development as a health resort.

Returning that same fall -- 1883 -- he established a homestead and the following year his son, Elcain, did likewise on an area adjoining his father's claim. Thus the present village of Longmire Springs was born. Today it is the "capital" of the Park for the government administration offices are located there but when the Longmires first built their cabins the region was an untracked wilderness for not until 1884 did even a trail penetrate to the Springs. In 1890 and 1891 they built the first road -- a crude affair at best -- and a small log hotel and in that manner the first visitors to the region were made more intimately acquainted with "The Mountain". Naturally these first visitors told others of the wondrous beauty of this country and slow but sure they came in increasing numbers. And so we may consider the efforts of James Longmire, his sons and his grandsons, as being instrumental in attracting the eyes of the nation to "The Mountain" which eventually resulted in its being created as a National Park in 1899.

Longmire Homestead Cabin One of the old homestead cabins still stands along the Trail of the Shadows. It was built by Elcain Longmire in 1888 and serves as a monument to those hardy folks who preceeded the present visitors who now come by the thousands. Longmire's dream of restoring health through the waters of the Springs did not materialize but nevertheless our visitors return to their homes refreshed in body and spirit by the invigorating contact with the out doors on "The Mountain".

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