Sunday, February 8, 2009

Early History

The Early History of Mt. Rainier NP

I would be hardpressed to present the history of Mount Rainier National Park in just a few Web pages with other Web pages of related information or materials. There are far too many people who have more than aptly described the history of the NP before and after its designation. What I have decided to do is focus on the pre-NP periods and the early decades of the NP, namely 1880-1920.

The history of Mount Rainier, once Mount Tahoma, can be divided into periods on decades due to the events about the mountain and the work to make it a national park and some of the general trends of nation during the respective periods. But that said, it's still mostly arbitrary on my part for the choice of events because it fits my interests about Mt. Rainier NP for photography, geography, and maps.

I've chosen three early periods, pre-1890 (explorations), 1890-1900 (pre-NP efforts and interests), 1900-1920 (USGS maps), and one later period, post-1920 (follow up to maps, laws, science, etc.). The pre-1890 period, mostly 1870-1890, is when the first explorations, including mount climbs, and first exploitation, mostly mining, timber, wildlife and land, occurred without little, if any, oversight and controls.

The period 1890-1900 was the period for the first scientific expeditions, the desgination of the Washington Forest Reserve and the work from 1893-1899 when the area was set aside as a national park. This was the period where all the efforts changed the course of everything about Mt. Rainier, and with the introduction of emulsion sheet film by Kodak in 1890, it opened the door for a number of photographers to work in and around Mt. Rainier.

The period 1900-1920 were the early years of the stablishment of the NP against the competing development and conservation interests, trying to find the funds for the basic needs and operating expenses before being brought into the new National Park Service, and the new scientific efforts in the NP with respects to developing maps, understanding glaciers, assessing the timber and wildlife resources, and other scientific ventures.

In addition, I'm researching the 1869 expedition by a team of USGS geologist who were exploring the rocks and geology of the Cascade Mountains at the time and were assigned to assess the glaciers and rock of Mt. Rainier. This eventually ended up in a USGS report published in an annual report in 1898.

And since discovering that report (have an original print copy with photos and maps), I've discovered a small wealth of material around it, so I'm working on an expedition revisited project with a report and map of their route. This expedition, known in the scientific community, has largely been overlooked by the mountain climbing community despite the team spending a night in the summit crater before descending to the Paradise Valley for rest before resuming their expedition.

History has shown they were the first to navigate across the northern face of Mt. Rainier, and if it weren't a last minute decision, one of the team member's 10 year old daughter would have also made the summit climb. Otherwise, she accompanied them for the whole expedition, even staying at the camps at the 7-8,000 foot elevation level while they climbed to the summit and return.

Anyway, that's the start of my view of the early history, and I'll update and add Web pages as I progress.

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