Blocked Out: Mount Rainier and the Landscape of Disappearance
- Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum
- University of Minnesota Press
- Volume 28, Number 1, Spring 2021
- pp. 30-57
- Additional Information
Between 1929 and 1944, a complex of three buildings resembling a Pacific Northwest fortification was built for tourists and administrators at Mount Rainier National Park. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, the Yakima Park Stockade Group, with its log-sided buildings covering wooden frames, has been lauded principally for its "rustic" characteristics, with local materials seemingly worked by hand and an overall design in harmony with the site's environmental and historic context. The past to which this particular military frontier vernacular refers, however, largely has gone unexplored. Fortifications in the West were built primarily for European American settlers to defend themselves against Native American incursions, and this fortification at Mount Rainier was erected upon a subalpine meadow known to have had spiritual and cultural significance for indigenous Yakama peoples. Yet the Native American presence has been erased, rendered invisible in an appreciation for carefully whittled logs blending with a spectacular wilderness context and a celebration of nineteenth-century White American "pioneers." Bringing this cultural and political landscape to bear upon the buildings complicates the formal and contextual narrative and raises questions about how and for whom the past has been constructed.