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Theodore Catton - Wonderland: An Administrative History of Mt Rainier National Park
I reviewed this book after reading Ruth Kirk's Sunrise to Paradise (kirk-1999). I've limited my notes to items that were omitted in that book or clarified in this one.

Chapter 3 - Establishment of Mt Rainier National Park

Mt Rainier was the nation's fifth national park. This chapter discusses the forces that led to creation of the park.

Chapter 4 - The New Pleasuring Ground

p. 78: The first day visitor appeared in Mt Rainier National Park in the summer of 1904, following completion of the Tacoma and Eastern Railroad to Ashford and inauguration of stage service over the remaining thirteen miles to Longmire Springs.

p. 79: The first automobile permits (and strict regulations) were issued in 1908. Mt Rainier was the first national park to admit cars.

p. 81: "The effect of the 'transient tourists' on the people who remained in the park for three or more days was unmistakable: those who mingled with the day visitors at places such as Longmire Springs and Paradise Park demanded better and better accommodations for their overnight stay, while those who really wanted to enjoy a primitive camping experience had to go farther and farther afield from the park road. This was the beginning of the division of the national park into 'frontcountry' and 'backcountry.'"

p. 82: James Longmire led the first wagon train over Naches Pass in 1853 and settled with his wife and children near Olympia. In 1870, he guided the first two Mt Rainier summit parties to the base of the mountain. After his own first climb of Rainier in 1883, Longmire discovered mineral springs near the base of the mountain and conceived the idea of developing the springs as a resort. By 1885 he had cleared a trail up to it and built a cabin. In 1890 he opened the Longmire Springs Hotel, two-stories with a lobby downstairs and five guest rooms on the second floor. On p. 72, the author writes that James Longmire and a crew of Indian laborers built a road from Ashford to Longmire Springs in 1893. By 1896 the road was improved for use by stages.

p. 86: "Mount Rainier National Park's second hotel, called the National Park Inn, opened for business on July 1, 1906. The long, two-story building, located opposite the Longmire Springs Hotel, contained thirty-six rooms and had a capacity for sixty guests." The hotel was built and operated by the Tacoma Eastern Railroad Company.

In 1916, the operators of the Longmire Springs Hotel built a two-story, seventeen-room annex adjacent to the original hotel. In 1919, the Rainier National Park Company (RNPC) purchased these buildings. The following year, RNPC moved the new annex cross the road to a position adjacent to the National Park Inn, calling it the National Park Inn Annex, and demolished the old Longmire Springs Hotel. In 1926, the National Park Inn was destroyed by fire and the annex took over its name. (Information in this paragraph is from chapters 4, 7, and 9.)

p. 104: In 1915, Stephen Mather convinced a gathering of business leaders at the Rainier Club in Seattle to form a Rainier National Park Company and build an inn at Paradise. The group included Thomas H. Martin, David Whitcomb, Joseph Blethen, Everett Griggs and others.

Chapter 5 - Rudiments of Administration

p. 117: The road to Paradise was surveyed in 1903 and built between 1904 and 1910. In 1907, the road was completed from the park entrance to Longmire Springs, and the first automobiles were permitted in the park. In 1908, the road was opened to Nisqually Glacier--the first road in the U.S., it was said, to reach a glacier. In 1909, it was completed to within a few miles of Paradise Park, and in 1910 the last stretch above Narada Falls was built. President Taft received the honor of being pulled to the top in a horse-drawn automobile in October 1911. A car reached Paradise under its own power in 1912, but the road was so narrow above Narada Falls that it was not opened to cars generally until 1915.

Chapter 6 - Natural Resource Protection in the Early Years

p. 151: In the summer of 1902, Peter Storbo of Enumclaw and B.P. Korssjoen staked claims in Glacier Basin. Between 1914 and 1916, their Mt Rainier Mining Company built a wagon road from the confluence of the White and Greenwater rivers up the White River into the basin, a distance of more than twenty miles. In 1915, the company received permits to construct two more buildings in the basin. One of the two buildings was a "tourist hotel," which remained incomplete and never saw any guest use.

Chapter 8 - The Park Under Construction

p. 225: In 1924, a road was completed up the Carbon River to within one mile of the Carbon Glacier terminus. Due to flood damage and lack of progress on the county road outside the park, the road remained primitive.

p. 231: From 1926-28, the Westside Road was constructed from the Nisqually road to Round Pass. In the early 1920s this was envisioned as part of an around-the-mountain road system. By the mid-1920s, this idea was superseded by the thought that the north side of the park should remain roadless (see also p. 237).

p. 232: From 1929-31, a road was constructed to Yakima Park. All but the last mile of the old White River Road became part of the new road to Sunrise, which opened July 15, 1931 (p. 298). The last three miles of wagon road up to Glacier Basin were allowed to revert to a trail (p. 228).

p. 235: In 1927 a scenic loop road was proposed above Paradise, taking in Alta Vista, Glacier Vista, Sluiskin Falls and Mazama Ridge. It was disapproved in 1928 and development focused elsewhere, particularly in Yakima Park.

Chapter 9 - The Rainier National Park Company

p. 276: David Whitcomb was president of Rainier National Park Company (RNPC) in 1921.

p. 277: In the winter of 1923-24, the National Park Service (NPS) kept the road open all year as far as Longmire. The RNPC rented snowshoes, skis and toboggans and kept the National Park Inn open "informally."

p. 279: The Paradise Lodge was completed in 1928. During the planning of the lodge, the RNPC proposed to build an aerial tramway from the Nisqually River road bridge up the mountainside to Paradise. The tramway would enable the lodge to operate throughout the winter without keeping the road open. The idea fizzled after the lodge was completed, because the RNPC was in a weak financial condition. Surprisingly, The Mountaineers supported the tramway proposal.

Chapter 10 - Visitor Use in the Depression Era

p. 291: The years from 1931 to 1933 were the worst of the Depression. Visitation statistics for Mt Rainier fell sharply during these years. Travel expenditures for the country as a whole rose during the years 1934 to 1937, dipped slightly during the 1938-39 recession, and rose spectacularly in 1940-41. Annual visitation to Mt Rainier increased 71% during the decade of the 1930s.

p. 304: The author describes the SOYPs as "a group of NPS officials and RNPC board members."

p. 306: "Some NPS officials began to question whether downhill skiing was an appropriate activity in a national park. The skiers' growing emphasis on speed, technique, athletic competition, and urban amenities led some park officials to view them as an unwelcome user group. [...] Mt Rainier's landscape architect, Ernest A. Davidson, argued that the growing popularity of the park as a downhill ski area was insidious, because skiers, as a group, were pushing for developments that would be injurious to the national park's broader purpose of providing for the public's enjoyment of nature."

p. 311: In December 1941, a large dormitory building, known as the Ski Lodge, was completed at Paradise. In December 1940, the Park Service approved the installation of a demountable, T-bar type of ski lift. The lift was not installed before World War II, but became an issue afterward.

p. 327: The Paradise Lodge was built with hopes of developing a big winter season at Paradise. When winter business failed to materialize, RNPC officials began a promotional campaign. The company leased housekeeping cabins and rooms in the Paradise Lodge for the entire winter season for nominal rates of $30 to $60, beginning in the winter of 1933-34. Hundreds of these housekeeping cabins had been built at Paradise and Sunrise for use by summer tourists during the Depression (p. 292).

Chapter 13 - National Park Values in Wartime

p. 408: "In a noteworthy compromise, ski troops claimed full use of the rope tow above Paradise Inn on week-days and yielded the ground to visitors on weekends [in 1941-42]."

Chapter 14 - The Problem of Winter Use

p. 414: Between 1956 and 1962 (the specific date is not given in the pages I copied), an all-year road was constructed from Marmot Point (above Narada Falls) to Paradise. Previously the only road to Paradise went up the east side of Paradise Valley, a route subject to avalanches and now closed in winter.

p. 415: Due to wartime budget cuts for the national parks, the NPS did not attempt to keep the road to Paradise open during the winters of 1942-43 through 1944-45. In 1945-46, the first winter after the end of the war, the road was closed above Longmire from December through February, then opened in March. The 600-foot rope tow was put back in operation for spring skiing.

p. 416: On August 13, 1945, NPS Director Newton B. Drury issued a policy on winter use in the national parks that stated, "Winter carnivals, crowning of 'Queens' and 'Kings', highly competitive, and other spectacles designed to attract large crowds of spectators with the resultant overcrowding of available accommodations, will be avoided." This policy was criticized by skier groups and was revised on March 21, 1946. The revised policy explicitly retracted Drury's earlier opposition to holding competitive events in national parks. A subtle but significant change in the policy was the deletion of a provision that would allow ski clubs to operate their own ski tows under special permit, reserving this privilege instead for the park concession.

p. 421: Skiers began using the Cayuse Pass-Tipsoo Lake area in the mid-1930s, when the State Department of Highways began maintaining the road as far as Cayuse Pass throughout the winter. Skiers used portable ski tows at Cayuse Pass in the winter of 1945-46 and at Tipsoo Lake the following winter. In 1949, the NPS developed limited facilities at Tipsoo Lake, a temporary warming hut, first aid station, portable toilets and ranger's office. The Tipsoo Lake area did not prove popular with skiers.

p. 425: In 1946-47, the RNPC operated the Paradise ski lodge on weekends and holidays only, and showed a loss for the season of about $19,000. In 1947-48, the RNPC decided not to provide overnight accommodations at Paradise, but only cafeteria service on weekends at Paradise Lodge. Similar service was offered in 1948-49, and both years the company lost money. In the fall of 1949, the NPS made hasty arrangements with the Naches Company to operate rope tows and provide limited food service at Tipsoo Lake. At the end of the year, the RNPC and NPS extended their contract, with the stipulation that the RNPC did not have to provide winter services at Paradise. During the winters of 1949-50 through 1952-53, the Park Service closed the road above Narada Falls.

p. 427: The resurgence of public interest in ski area development in 1953-54 was led not by skiers but by local merchants who wanted the road to Paradise kept open all year. The author discusses the polarization of thinking that developed between Washington Governor Arthur Langlie and Interior Secretary Douglas McKay during this period. NPS Director Conrad Wirth was opposed to construction of a permanent lift above Paradise and recommended against it in his report to Secretary McKay, arguing that the very idea of the national parks was at stake. McKay eventually gave the NPS director his full support.

p. 432: The author writes: "In contrast to many other public use issues, the Park Service actually had time on its side in this case. With the growth of other ski areas in the region, pressure for this type of use in Mt Rainier National Park would ease."

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