This investigation of modern human history of the central mountainous massif and fringe of Pacific coastline, that now comprise Olympic National Park, began in the summer of 1982. From June to October 1982 a team of three historians based in the Park identified nearly 250 pre-1943 buildings. These extant buildings represented the tangible traces of the Park's human history. Project team members hiked over 350 miles to inspect and document each building. In addition, project members compiled historical data on each building after conducting research at local libraries and archives, as well as at the University of Washington. Inventory cards noting the construction date, physical description, geographic location, historical summary and statement of significance were completed for each of the 250 buildings in the Park.
The individual histories of extant Park buildings gave shape and form to a much larger history of the Park and the Peninsula. As a literal expression of certain aspects of Olympic history, they served as suggestions of an overall historical context. By providing a base line of pertinent data, the inventory of pre-1943 buildings in Olympic National Park raised key questions and provided a meaningful direction for further research.
Initial work on the text of the Historic Resource Study (HRS) began in November 1983. After a project plan was devised and readily available resource material in the Park reviewed, a tentative outline of the Park's major historical themes was set forward. In-depth research conducted by Gail Evans and two assistant researchers, David Harvey and Russell Dalton, ensued. Among the major institutions and agencies visited were the University of Washington, the Seattle Federal Records Center, the Washington State Historical Society, the Washington State Archives, the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Maps and Surveys Section, the Olympic National Forest Supervisor's Office and the National Forest Service Regional Office. Major public libraries in Portland, Oregon, and in Seattle, Tacoma and on the Olympic Peninsula, were searched for resource material. The four Peninsula county historical societies, certain museums and club archival collections, as well as Olympic National Park and Forest Service ranger stations, often held valuable records, as did the the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Throughout the research phase of the project, amateur historians and key informants were contacted and oftentimes they provided useful information.
Writing of the HRS text began in late May. Judgments about emphasis given to certain historical periods were based on the perceived and expressed needs of Park resource managers, interpreters and administrators. Historical periods that were represented by a larger number of extant and visible resources, namely those that offered greater potential for management and interpretive opportunities, were given more thorough treatment in the narrative text. A constant attempt was made to weave individual histories of the more significant existing cultural resources into the narrative, and to illustrate how these site specific histories expressed aspects of much broader historical themes.
Throughout the work, the interaction between the natural environment of the Olympic Peninsula, and the human response to it, became a thread of continuity. The perceived and real wilderness setting of the Park in all its multifarious permutations has indeed played a powerful role in shaping the course of human activity. In turn, past human decisions and actions have often impacted and are discernable in the natural landscape as we view it today. It is, in fact, an awareness of this sometimes adversary, sometimes sympathetic response of man to the unique and diverse environments of the Peninsula, that is most useful in grasping a fuller understanding of Olympic National Park as it is in 1983.
Finally, Park Service staff in both Olympic National Park and the Pacific Northwest Regional Office reviewed copies of the draft and made helpful comments, many of which were incorporated into the text. Hopefully, neither intimidating nor merely indicative of the author's effusiveness, the length of this Historic Resource Study is more a measure of the rich and abundant human history in Olympic National Park.
Last Updated: 01-Oct-2009