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C. Frank Brockman

C. Frank Brockman at Longmire Hot Springs
C. Frank Brockman at Longmire Springs, 1932.
(Mount Rainier National Park Archives)

C. Frank Brockman, the second full time naturalist at Mount Rainier National Park, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1902.

Brockman graduated from Colorado State University in 1924, earning a BS in Forestry. As he searched for the best way to apply his skills, Frank spent the next four years in a variety of jobs that included assignments for a Seattle advertising agency, work with private forest industry, and seasonal work for the US Forest Service.

During the summer of 1928 Brockman accepted a seasonal ranger position at Mount Rainier National Park. He provided valuable help to Floyd Schmoe, Park Naturalist, that summer. When Schmoe left at the end of August, Brockman acted in his position. In November 1928 he became Park Naturalist.

During the next 13 years Brockman pioneered the advancement of National Park interpretation and field research programs.

In the fall of 1928 he was given the task of converting the old park headquarters building at Longmire to a public museum. It remains that today.

In 1929 he moved the Paradise naturalist headquarters from the ranger station to the Paradise Community Building until a museum could be built.

During 1930 he began a number of field research projects. Of particular value was periodic measurement of park glacial movement and expansion/contraction of glacial length and thickness.

In 1931 Brockman earned a MS of forestry from the University of Washington. He joined in the development of the new Sunrise facilities. Only one blockhouse existed at that time, used by Brockman to house seasonal naturalists and a "museum room." Indoor interpretive programs were given in a storage building behind the blockhouse.

In 1932 construction of park relief models was begun. Some of them are still used today. A new form of public contact, KVI radio station broadcasts 15 minutes each week, was made by the naturalists.

In 1933 lecture programs were expanded and offered to the public schools system.

C. Frank Brockman at Longmire Museum
Frank Brockman talking to visitors at Longmire Museum about the cougar on display, 1941.
(Mount Rainier National Park Archives)

From the time he started in his naturalist position Brockman researched and collected every bit of natural and human historical information on the park that he could find. A decade of the information found and developed by him, his seasonal naturalist staff and the efforts of volunteers, became key parts of Nature Notes. In the latter part of the 1930s the valuable material was compiled with CCC help and offered as the Mount Rainier National Park Encyclopedia of Information. Unfortunately the document was never printed, but copies of its contents are available in the park archives and at the Longmire library.

Brockman stressed the value to the public of both outdoor and indoor interpretation facilities. He developed the concept of information stations at historical locations throughout the park, and planned museums for several of the heavily visited areas, such as Paradise and Sunrise. He hoped that the tiny museum at Longmire could be replaced by a larger structure.

In 1933 the Park Superintendent supported Brockman's request that a new museum be built at Longmire, using CCC labor. It was not funded.

In 1935 the budget request by the Superintendent included a Paradise Museum plan. It was approved in 1937. A small museum was built next to the Paradise Lodge in 1939 as a Federal Public Works project. It was crushed by heavy snow and torn down in 1949.

In 1939 two CCC structures were combined, forming a museum building. Called the "Forest House," the museum was used until replaced by a new building in 1964.

In 1939 Brockman was able to find funding for park publications by helping to establish the Mount Rainier National Park Natural History Association, a nonprofit support institution.

Brockman transferred from Mount Rainier to Yosemite National Park as Park Naturalist in 1941. He retired from the National Park Service in 1946.

In July 1946 Brockman became Associate Professor, College of Forestry at University of Washington. His specialties were dendrology and recreational management of wildlands.

In 1961 Brockman was sent to Africa by the Department of State, Office of Cultural Exchange as an advisor on land conservation and recreation.

Brockman, Professor of Forest Recreation, retired from UW.

C. Frank Brockman died March 20, 1985, a loss to the Park Service and the scientific community.

Prepared by Bob McIntyre, Jr. 3/24/01
Date: 31-Mar-2001