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The Fifties
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The National Park Service, a new landlord, develops Mission 66, a plan and funding for park repair and improvement. 1950 - 1959


- On November 3rd a ski area is authorized at Canyon Rim, about a mile past Ricksecker Point. The road is kept open as far as Narada Falls, and a rope tow is operated for skiers. The RNPCo. provides lunch services, car chain rentals, and ski rentals at Longmire.

The Department Of the Interior decides to purchase and maintain the RNPCo. facilities. The financially torn company will still use the buildings and furnish services. Plans are considered for a new hotel at Paradise, to be built by the park service and kept open all during the year.


- A record 871,577 people visit Mount Rainier National Park, a 53% increase over the preceding year. On December 15th the ten millionth visitor (estimate of visitors since the park is established in 1899) comes through the park entrance.

Lt. John W. Hodgkin, US Air Force, landed his own Piper Cub airplane on the top of Mount Rainier. It is reported that he couldn't restart his engine. A park ranger rescue party climbs to assist, but finds that Hodgkin had glided off the mountain with a dead engine and safely landed at Mowich Lake. He is tried and found guilty of not abiding by the regulation that prohibits landing planes within the park.


- The government and RNPCo., at a February meeting, agrees that transportation equipment would be excluded from purchase of company property. Sale of RNPCo. holdings is completed in August, for $300,000.

Martin Kilian offered his Ohanapecosh holdings to the government for $80,000. The price is considered too high. Negotiations are also underway concerning the purchase of land held by the two last companies that owned mining claims within the park, The Eagle Peak Copper Mining Co. and the Mount Rainier Mining Company (holder of the Glacier Basin mines).


- Skiing facilities within the park are highly criticized as inferior to popular commercial areas in the Cascades. A chair lift is proposed to be built at Paradise.


- Public support grows for the chair lift proposal, and for keeping the road open all the way to Paradise. There is enthusiastic local support for construction of a European style tramway. The Automobile Club of Washington publishes "Modernize the Mountain" in the Washington Motorist, and criticizes National Park Service policy as backward. The Mountaineers supports NPS policy, and suggests that winter recreational development be made outside the park. The Secretary of the Interior turns down the proposed winter expansion and construction of a new hotel.


- The Mission 66 plan for Mount Rainier National Park is chosen as a national pilot project for upgrading both public accommodations and park preservation. Construction and changes will occur during the next ten years.

The road to Paradise is kept open during the winter of 1954-1955 for the first time since 1948-1949. Only 35% of the winter visitors skied. The rest enjoy sightseeing and other forms of snow play.


- The Mission 66 plan deals with optimum use of a $13.5 million appropriation during a ten year period. Accommodations and services are needed to serve an expected increase of visitors to exceed 1,000,000 per year.

Mount Rainier's height is measured 8/8/1956. It is found to be two feet higher than the 1913 measurement of 14,408 feet.


- Newspapers report "drastic changes" to the park because of the Mission 66 development program. The majority of the public supports the program.

The Stevens Canyon road is opened to the public 9/4/1957. Construction began in the 1930s.


- A seismograph is located at Longmire by the University of Washington on 3/6/1958. It provides better readings of tremors than the station in Seattle.

A million visitors come through park entrances before the end of September.


- Congressional and state pressure instigates a study by Jackson Hole Preserves, Inc. of park capability to serve overnight guests. The study concludes that a modern first-class hotel is needed at Paradise. A bill is introduced in Congress to authorize the use of federal funds to build the hotel.

A plane crashes on 9/2/1959 while attempting to make a drop of rescue supplies on the summit of Mount Rainier. It is completely covered by a snowstorm, and is found several days later.

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