U.S. Congress creates Mount Rainier National Park on March 2, 1899.

  • By Patrick McRoberts
  • Posted 3/02/2003
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 5345

On March 2, 1899, both houses of the United States Congress pass legislation creating Mount Rainier National Park, dominated by the glacier-capped, 14,411 foot mountain located in Pierce County. The park is the country's fifth national park.

Ice and Snow

Located southeast of Tacoma and Puyallup, and about 60 miles southeast of Seattle, the park measures 378 square miles, including all of Mount Rainier, the fifth-highest mountain in the lower 48 states. Until Mount Baker unofficially surpassed it in 1998-1999, the mountain held the national record for snowfall, with 1,122 inches recorded during the winter of 1971-1972. It embraces a system of 27 glaciers, one of the largest glacier systems in the world.

The English explorer Captain George Vancouver (1758-1798) named the mountain after his friend Rear Admiral Peter Rainier. Rainier never saw the mountain or set foot in the United States.

From Tahoma to Rainier

Civic leaders in Tacoma for a long time wanted to rename the mountain Mount Tacoma or Tahoma, the Indian name for the peak, but Seattle leaders fought for it to remain Rainier. In the 1930s, the Rainier faction won this battle.


Sources:

Darrell Glover, "Mt. Rainier Park Is 100 Today," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 2, 1999, B-1; "Mount Baker Breaks Unofficial Snow Record," The Seattle Times, May 14, 1999. See also Sara Almasy Porterfield, “Mount Rainier National Park: Wilderness as a Resource,” Columbia: The Magazine of Northwest History Vol. 24, No. 4 (Winter 2010-11), 20-25.


Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You