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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Women working as park rangers during WW II
During WW II, many parks such as Mt. Rainer recruited local women to serve as seasonal park rangers. Barbara Hilton and Katherine Burns worked at Nisqually Entrance Station, 1943-45 Photo courtesy Barbara Hilton

Mount Rainier National Park Centennial

For residents of Washington state, particularly of the Puget Sound area, Mount Rainier has long been an icon, a recreational mecca, and spiritual retreat. For more than a hundred miles in any direction, Mount Rainier is the dominant land form on the horizon, providing an almost mystical presence of pristine wilderness right at the urban doorstep. On March 2, 1898, Americans drew a rough boundary around the mountain, its meadows, waterfalls, and fringe of lowland forest, and designated Mount Rainier as the country's fifth national park. It was the first park whose long-term development was guided by a master plan.

To mark the centennial of Mount Rainier National Park, a year-long celebration centered on the theme, "A Century of Resource Stewardship." The Mount Rainier Centennial Committee planned the occasion with national scope, but focused most activities locally. Events held throughout the year encompassed special exhibits, festivals, tours, conferences, programs, films, and lectures about the history and different aspects of the mountain, which were held at the park, at museums, universities, libraries, and other venues. National and local media also produced news segments, documentaries, and articles about Mount Rainier.

To illustrate and fulfill the centennial theme on resource stewardship, the centennial committee and park management identified four major projects to complete. These were:

Rehabilitation of the historic White River Patrol Cabin: This historic back country cabin serves as a mini-museum about the park's extensive trail system, including the Wonderland Trail.

Ecological restoration of the sunrise campground.

Produce the historic Longmire Gas Station Transportation exhibit: In 1907, Mount Rainier became the first national park to admit automobiles and to charge entrance fees, represented by this recreated 1929 gas station, featuring vintage gasoline pumps.

Complete the final mile of the Wonderland Trail: Construction of this 93-mile route, which encircles the mountain, began in the 1920s.

Among the three major centennial celebrations in 1998, March 2 was proclaimed Mount Rainier Day and celebrated with speakers, skiing activities, a slide presentation, and a 200-pound centennial cake. Smaller versions of the cake were served to visitors throughout summer weekends at park visitor centers.

Legacy documentation includes the 144-page illustrated book, Washington's Mount Rainier National Park: A Centennial Celebration, a catalog of park records; a centennial medallion, scanned image printouts, 1999 media coverage (newspapers and magazine articles); and centennial speeches.

Originally submitted by: Jennifer Dunn, Representative (8th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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