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Sally (Dabney) Parker - Personal Communication

E-mail correspondence, April 2011

On 10 April 2011, Sally (Dabney) Parker contacted Lowell Skoog by e-mail regarding her great-aunt Edith Dabney, who accompanied her parents, Frank and Mary Dabney, to ski on Mt Rainier with their friend Milnor Roberts in March 1909 (see ngm-1909). In a follow-up e-mail, Sally explained that she has been working on biographies of Frank, Mary and Edith Dabney since she inherited a collection of family papers and photos in the 1970s. The Dabney family moved to Seattle in 1900. Frank Dabney lived from 1853 to 1934. Edith Dabney was 29 in 1910. She did not marry until 20 years later and was widowed early. In 2010, Sally Parker donated Edith's two photo albums and some papers to the University of Washington Library, Special Collections.

In her e-mail, Sally wrote: "There are many photos in her albums which would interest you, and I identified people as far as possible by cross-referencing. Another 'sport' on Rainier was sliding down slopes on their butts, using the long pole as stabilizer. They climbed to summit one August. I also gave UofW the Nat'l Geographic article by M. Roberts (and perhaps had sent a copy previously). There also exists a newspaper article entitled 'First Women to Ski Down Mt. Rainier' which took place at time of group's 1909 outing. Milnora Roberts and Edith Dabney were the two ladies who did this. [...] Of general interest may be the early 1900's photos of Mt. Rainier Park, by Linkletter and others which I have. Also several personal snaphots of Camp in the Clouds, skiing on Nasqually Glacier, etc. Edith's photo albums contain several snapshots from the group's ski outings. I don't see any of these posted on Library's website a year later, but you could access them personally." (As of 27 Nov 2011, I have not yet viewed these materials at UW.)

Written correspondence, 22 October 2011
From Sally Parker
To Lowell Skoog

In a short letter, Sally Parker sent photocopies of three newspaper articles about the 1909 ski trip to Mt Rainier by the Milnor Roberts party:

Newspaper articles

The Seattle Times article says that "nine well-known Seattle men and women" made the trek from Ashland [sic], the terminus of the Tacoma Eastern Railway, to ski in Paradise Valley on Mt Rainier. They included Prof. Milnor Roberts, dean of the School of Mines of the University of Washington, and Frank Dabney, assistant treasurer of the Seattle Electric Company, "both enthusiastic lovers of this form of sport."

Listed as party members are Prof. Roberts, Miss Milnora Roberts, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Dabney, Miss Dabney, Mrs. Worall Wilson, Miss Nieman, Waldenar [sic] Nieman and Mrs. [sic] C.F. Gould. (Note that this list does not include Mayor W.W. Seymour of Tacoma, who Milnor Roberts in later years recalled was a member of this party--see mtneer-a-1961-41. I wonder if Seymour was on a later Mt Rainier trip, not this one.)

The Seattle P-I article says that Misses Milnora Roberts and Edith Dabney were the first women to make a ski trip on the mountain, and the first to make a trip of any kind to an altitude of 7,000 feet in winter. "Their claim is supported by James McCullough, watchman at the National Park Inn, who accompanied them on the trip. He has been employed about the mountain since 1892, and says he is familiar with the history of all ascents made for many years." The trip was made to Sluiskin Falls, at the head of Paradise Valley, by way of Mazama Ridge. The trip was made on Wednesday, March 24. "The wagon road was around precipitous peaks, covered deep with snow, and could not be utilized," says the article. "The climbers picked their own paths."

The undated Tacoma Ledger article is largely composed of excerpts of a letter from from Misses Roberts and Dabney to the newspaper describing their ski trip from Longmire Springs to Sluiskin Falls with James McCullough, caretaker of the National Park Inn. The article says that theirs was the "earliest trip of the season of any year to the beautiful valley on Mt Tacoma." They left the inn at 8 o'clock "last Wednesday morning" and followed the government road from Longmire "to the crossing of the Nisqually River, where the old trail was struck." They followed the trail route to Narada Falls for a lunch stop at the last open water. From there to the upper valley the Paradise River was entirely covered with snow. They followed the route of the Mazama trail to the top of Mazama Ridge and on to Sluiskin Falls, commenting on the great depth of snow they observed. "After spending some time coasting into Paradise Valley the party returned to the inn, reaching there at 9 o'clock."


The letter from Sally Parker includes a photo of eight members of the Roberts party standing on skis in front of the National Park Inn. From left to right they are identified as Milnora Roberts, B. Wilson, Sally Nieman, Edith Dabney, Frank and Mary Dabney, Milnor Roberts, and Carl Gould. (This photo is in UW Special Collections, Social Issues Collection, Folder Ec, UW9765.) A process of elimination suggests that this photo may have been taken by Waldenar (Waldemar?) Nieman, the ninth member of the party.

Another photo (found in the Milnor Roberts' 1909 National Geographic article on p. 531) is captioned, from left to right, Edith Dabney, Frank Dabney, Milnora Roberts, and Milnor Roberts.

A photo of four adults and a child standing in front of a train station is labeled "Ashford RR Station: Waiting for the train home." The adults are identified, from left to right, as Frank Dabney, Sally Nieman, Mary Dabney, and Mrs. Worrall Wilson. (This photo is in UW Special Collections, Social Issues Collection, Folder Ec.)

E-mail, 9 November 2011
From Sally Parker
To Lowell Skoog

In response to my e-mail questions, Sally Parker sent a timeline that she reconstructed from the news clippings and the 1909 National Geographic Article by Milnor Roberts:

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