The Little Tahoma News
WELCOME to a mountain wonderland of dense forests, dazzling wildflowers, tremendous snowfields, and rugged glaciers! We are happy you are exploring the complex story of Mount Rainier National Park. On this page you'll find brief summaries about the park's weather, geology, glaciers, human history, plants and wildlife, the National Park Service, area information, and a brief bibliography.
|Early Explorers and Climbers
On May 8, 1792, Captain George Vancouver of the British Royal Navy anchored his ship near today's Port Townsend, Washington. He wrote in his log, "...the round snowy mountain...after my friend Rear Admiral Peter Rainier, I distinguished by the name of Mount Rainier..." In 1833, Dr. William Fraser Tolmie of the Hudson Bay Company became the first European known to have traveled into what is now Mount Rainier National Park.
In August 1870, Yakama guide Sluiskin led Hazard Stevens and Philemon Beecher Van Trump to the southern slopes of Mount Rainier. Although Sluiskin refused to accompany them, Stevens and Van Trump climbed to the summit. They were the first people known to have reached the top of Mount Rainier.
In 1890, Fay Fuller, a school teacher from Yelm, Washington, became the first woman to climb to top of the mountain. Susan Longmire followed her in 1891, at the age of 13!
Today about 10,000 men and women attempt to climb to the summit of Mount Rainier each year. About half are successful; many of those who do not reach the summit are forced to leave the higher elevations because of inclement weather and strong winds.
American Indians and the Mountain
Northwest American Indians knew the mountain long before European explorers reached the waters of the Pacific Ocean. For generations, they knew the mountain as Takhoma, Tahoma, Ta-co-bet and several other names. Many of the names mean "big mountain" or "snowy peak," or "place where the waters begin." Little Tahoma is the name of prominent rock outcrop on the east side of Mount Rainier (seen in the upper left of illustration.)
American Indians living both east and west of Mount Rainier traveled to the high mountain valleys each summer and fall to gather berries and hunt deer, goats, elk, and bear. They often camped near berry fields at altitudes between 3,000 feet and 5,000 feet. The forests and meadows around Mount Rainier were important summer hunting and gathering sites for the Nisqually, Puyallup, Upper Cowlitz, Muckleshoot, and Yakama people.
Ta-co-bet, Majestic Mountain,
Cecelia Svinth Carpenter, Nisqually Tribe Historian
Little Tahoma page 7
Last updated: February 28, 2015