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National Park, City Playground

Mount Rainier in the Twentieth Century

by Theodore R. Catton

Publication Year: 2006

Looks at the evolving relationship between the mountain and its surrounding residents, from the late 1890s when the Pacific Forest Reserve became Mount Rainier National Park. Catton tells the history of the park and examines the many controversies that affected its development, from proposals to develop a chairlift for downhill skiers to environmental degradation from overuse of popular areas.

Published by: University of Washington Press


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pp. vii-x

This book is dedicated to my parents, Bill and Nancy Catton, whose love of Mount Rainier National Park infused my early childhood in Seattle in the 1960s. They taught my brothers and me the meaning of "Wonderland" on three full circuits of the Wonderland Trail in 1963, 1967, and 1978. And like so many Seattleites, they took visiting ...

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1. A Tale of Two Cities

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pp. 143-14

Since the birth of the National Park idea city dwellers have been the most numerous and enthusiastic supporters of national parks. In a few instances, certain American cities have formed strong bonds with nearby national parks: San Francisco with Yosemite, Denver with Rocky Mountain, Miami with Everglades National Park. But none of these examples ...

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2. The Campaign to Establish Mount Rainier National Park

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pp. 15-31

The campaign to establish a national park around Mount Rainier was a collaborative effort by Seattle and Tacoma groups and a handful of national organizations. No single figure stands out as its leader, nor did any single organization coordinate it. More than a dozen scientists, many of whom had climbed the mountain, formed one component of the campaign. ...

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3. The New Pleasuring Ground (1900–1915)

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pp. 32-59

Chester Thorne was a banker with the commonwealth Title Trust Company of Tacoma, a Mount Rainier enthusiast, and president of the Tacoma Automobile Club. In 1907, he addressed a letter to "The Honorable Secretary of the Interior," James R. Garfield. "Sir: The Tacoma Automobile Club hereby earnestly and respectfully request[s] that you ...

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4. Steve Mather and the Rainier National Park Company (1915–1930)

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pp. 60-89

In 1915, national park promoters across the nation learned that they had a new leader in Stephen T. Mather. A Chicago business tycoon, philanthropist, and longtime member of the Sierra Club, Mather took the reins of national park reform at the invitation of Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane. "Dear Steve," Lane famously wrote to ...

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5. Through Depression and War (1930–1945)

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pp. 90-111

Steve Mather and the Seattle and Tacoma businessmen who backed the Rainier National Park Company in the 1920s shared similar visions for Mount Rainier National Park. They expected the park to attract visitors from across the nation, to function as a national park in that sense. The park's popularity exceeded their expectations, but the throngs ...

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6. The Contentious Years (1945–1965)

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pp. 112-146

On June 22, 1945, President Harry S. Truman entered Mount Rainier National Park at the wheel of a purple convertible. Accompanied by Washington Governor Mon C. Wallgren and an entourage of reporters, photographers, Secret Service agents, and state patrolmen, the president led the motorcade to Paradise, where he "frolicked in the snow and threw snowballs,"...

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7. The Search for Limits (1965–2000)

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pp. 147-173

If revamping visitor circulation was the key to park planning and management in the Mission 66 era, zoning became the management tool of choice in the 1960s and 1970s. Zoning would help managers restrict various types of development, public use, and administrative activity to appropriate areas in the park. Zoning would provide a more intensive and ...

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8. Conclusion

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pp. 174-176

It is often remarked that the national park service mission contains an insoluble tension between preservation and use. Preserving nature and providing for the public's enjoyment of nature represent a pair of directives that can never be absolutely compatible with one another. This classic tension animated management decisions in Mount Rainier National Park ...


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pp. 177-212


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pp. 213-222


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pp. 223-236

E-ISBN-13: 9780295800868
E-ISBN-10: 0295800860
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295986432
Print-ISBN-10: 0295986433

Publication Year: 2006

OCLC Number: 774403780
MUSE Marc Record: Download for National Park, City Playground

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Subject Headings

  • Mount Rainier National Park (Wash.) -- History -- 20th century.
  • Tacoma (Wash.) -- History -- 20th century.
  • Seattle (Wash.) -- History -- 20th century.
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