One hundred and fifteen years ago, the United States government created a national Park with one of the most iconic mountains in the United States. Mount Rainier, the active volcano looming over 14,000 feet above the cities of Seattle and Tacoma, was turned into a National Park on March 2nd, 1899.
Thanks to the push of naturalists, such as John Muir, the public fell in love with this remote mountain, and the pictures and words John Muir spread through the country helped turn congress on to the idea of creating the Mount Rainier National Park. Signed by President McKinley, best known for being assassinated in office and purchasing Alaska, Mount Rainier National park immediately became a must-see National Park.
While originally known as Mount Tahoma by the native groups of the region, Mount Rainier was named Mount Rainier in 1792 by Captain George Vancouver. However, it wasn’t until 1833 that Mount Rainier was explored by white settlers, with William Tolmie leaving Fort Nisqually in search of herbs. From 1833 on, the Mount Rainier region has been drawing tourists. While the summit wasn’t reached until 1870 (by Hazard Stevens and Philemon Van Trump) the summit has been reached by thousands of people, including then Vice President Al Gore in 1999.
For most of us, Mount Rainier is known as “Our Mountain” or even more simply, “The Mountain.” Mount Rainier defines our region, our state and our way of life. Visible for the majority of the state’s population, we are elated when we get to see sunrises and sunsets on the mountain. To us, Mount Rainier is the symbol of home, the symbol of Cascadia and a symbol of Washington.
5 FUN FACTS: MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK
– It was the site of Walt Disney’s Honeymoon
– Legendary Naturalist John Muir climbed Mt Rainier in 1888
– It was just the 5th National Park ever created
– Mount Rainier National Park was the first National Park created from an already existing National Forest
– Paradise, in Mount Rainier National Park, was the site of the 1935 National Downhill and Slalom Championships and Olympic Trials.
“The Mount Rainier Forest Preserve should be made a national park and guarded while yet its bloom is on; for if in the making of the West Nature had what we call parks in mind—places for rest, inspiration, and prayers—this Rainier region must surely be one of them.”