Nature Notes

Vol. VIII May, 1930 No. 5

Eugene Ricksacker

Few of the thousands that drive over the Nisqually Highway, that climbs to 5500 feet in elevation upon the slopes of Mt. Rainier consider the personalities that were connected with this road. Shortly after the Park was created in 1899 an attempt was made to find a suitable route for a road from the east side. John Zug, of the U. S. Army Engineers, was commissioned to make the survey but his route was never carried out. For a time such activities were dormant and then, in 1903, Hon. Francis Cushman was successful in securing an appropriation for a second survey Capt. Eugene Ricksacker, also of the Army Engineers, made this survey and later -- in 1906 -- began the actual construction of the present Nisqually road. Many years elapsed before it was finally completed and modernized -- in fact it was not until last fall that it could really be considered complete -- and others took up the work of Capt. Ricksacker. All of which gives some idea of the difficulties which had to be overcome in building a modern highway in such a rugged country as this -- yet the route first selected was followed religiously.

Capt. Ricksacker's activities in planning and constructing this road stamped him as one of the most far sighted engineers of his time. He had the rare faculty of combining practical engineering principles with the scenic requirements of the region. An interesting story is told regarding his ideas on this line. Working with his men one day he noticed that preparations were under way to cut out a particularly large and handsome Fir near the proposed grade. A glance was all that was necessary to convince him that the tree's destruction was unnecessary. There followed a quick order -- and the tree remained untouched. Captain Ricksacker died in 1911 but scenic Ricksacker Point on the road he planned bears his name.

'The Mountain' from Ricksacker Point

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