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Overview of the early Mount Rainier Naturalist Program: 1913-41
Compiled by Bob McIntyre, Jr.
March 2001

July 1, 1913
John B. Flett, biology and geology teacher for approx. 20 years in Tacoma, hired as a permanent ranger. He was stationed at Longmire. Duties included traffic control, campground patrol, and distribution of information and literature.

Flett recognized by National Park Service Director Stephen T. Mather for his interpretive value to the park.

Information office and interpretive responsibility moved to Nisqually Entrance. Plans made for visitor information services and exhibits at Paradise.

Guide Alma Wagen - Nisqually trip
Guide Alma Wagen - Nisqually trip, 1920.
(Photo by Frank A. Jacobs, Official Photographer, Rainier National Park Co., Longmire Springs, Wash.)

Charles Landes, science teacher in Seattle, hired as a seasonal ranger and nature guide. He was instructed to set up an interpretive program at Paradise. He guided nature walks, created a cut flower display, and gave nightly lectures with lantern slides. The projector was borrowed from the park's concessionaire, the Rainier National Park Co.

November 9, 1921
Flett left his Mount Rainier position.

Landes set up an interpretive information service at Longmire. Evening slide shows were given at the public campground. Paradise interpretation site moved to the new Rainier National Park Co. Guide House (completed in 1921). Lectures were given in the basement. Park Superintendent mentioned the popularity of the new nature guide service in his yearly report, and requested purchase of program equipment.

Longmire caretakers
Mr. & Mrs. Green - Caretakers, Longmire 1923
(Courtesy Mount Rainier National Park)

July 16, 1923
Floyd W. Schmoe helped produce the first (Vol.I No.1) Nature Notes at Mount Rainier. Yosemite's first issue was 1922. Yellowstone's started around the same time as Mount Rainier's.

Landes, now considered to be a seasonal park naturalist, reported that 15,000 people had been served at Paradise in 1923. He recommended that museum displays be installed the community buildings planned for Longmire and Paradise. Park Superintendent reported that the interpretive program had gained enthusiastic public support and recommended it be continued on a permanent basis.

Paradise nature guide program expanded to two men, Landes and another. The Superintendent requested 2 full time interpreters.

horsepack trip around the mountain
Around the mountain trip 1924.
(Courtesy Mount Rainier National Park)

November 1, 1924
Schmoe became permanent park naturalist. Plans made to expand the interpretation program.

Paradise Naturalists set up exhibits in Ranger Station. Schmoe and three assistants (including Landes) helped 75,000 people at Longmire and Paradise combined. Park Superintendent requested funding of a museum.

By 1927, Schmoe began planning and preparing exhibits for a museum at Longmire. Preparation made to move Paradise interpretation program and exhibits to new Community Building. Part time interpretation at White River Campground began and recession of Emmons Glacier studied.

August 31, 1928
Schmoe resigned. C. Frank Brockman, information ranger, later becomes Park Naturalist.

Brockman converted old Administration Building "Superintendent's Office") to a museum (this building continues to serve as the Longmire museum). Landes created plant/rock collections for both Longmire and Paradise display.

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

The Paradise naturalists and their exhibits moved from the Paradise Ranger Station into new Paradise Community Building.

Elizabeth Morse of Berkeley, CA collected park fungi. Brockman planned and prepared exhibits for the new Sunrise area development. Landes laid out wild flower garden in front of blockhouse.

A cooperative agreement among the U.S. Geological Survey, the city of Tacoma, and the National Park Service led to studies of glacier recession on the mountain. The Longmire museum was repaired and upgraded. Blockhouse at Sunrise housed naturalists. Indoor programs were given in a storage building behind the blockhouse. Indian exhibits were developed, and geologic relief models were made for several interpretive areas.

Park naturalists were given 15 minutes of time on radio station KVI each week. Brockman planned a new museum for Longmire, as well as museums for Paradise and Sunrise.

1932 staff
1932 staff.
(Courtesy Mount Rainier National Park)

Park Superintendent requested that a museum be built at Longmire as a Public Works Project. Brockman and seven seasonal naturalists gave programs in the park and at two state fairs. The Rainier National Park Co. protested that NPS nature guide service took business from company guides. The NPS program was reduced for about two weeks, then begun again because of public protest.

The Rainier National Park Co. guide service joined with park naturalists on radio broadcasts.

Paradise Museum plan and request for funding forwarded.

Park staff
Bill Butler, Oscar Carlson, Oscar Sedergren
and Superintendent O.A. Tomlinson, 1941.
(Courtesy Mount Rainier National Park)

Mount Rainier National Park Encyclopedia of Information, compiled over a 9-year period by the Naturalist Department, became primary reference for answering natural science and human history questions.

First interpretive programs given at Ohanapecosh campground. A museum built at Ohanapecosh by combining two CCC structures. Museum construction begun next to the Paradise Lodge (a Federal Public Works Project). Mount Rainier Natural History Association began. Nature Notes ended with the December issue.

Trail side exhibits were developed and constructed. A wildflower garden was created at Ohanapecosh. A Grove of the Patriarchs nature trail was constructed.

March 27, 1941
Brockman transferred to Yosemite.

April 8, 1941
Howard R. Stagner became Park Naturalist.
Date: 31-Mar-2001