The Mountain by Any Other Name

So before about 1930 there’s an easy way to trace tourism and travel brochures related to the mountain. Anything produced in Tacoma, by the Northern Pacific or Milwaukee Road railroads or Pierce County cities and Chamber of Commerce groups faithfully avoided printing the two words Mount ( or Mt.) and Rainier together. The iconic mountain is always referred to as Mt. Tacoma, “The Mountain” or sometimes Mt. Tahoma. The park is unavoidable called Rainier National Park but most locally developed materials go to almost comical lengths to avoid any reference to a mountain with the name, Rainier. These were, of course, the contentious days of the mountain’s geographic name battle between Tacoma and Seattle fueled by competing newspapers, railroads and politicians. In its worthy and quixotic efforts to  synchronize the common name of the mountain with its own, Tacoma lost (more than once). The entire rest of the known world, including Seattle, continued to used the name Rainier when describing both the national park and the 14,409 foot mountain. These brochures from the early 20th Century, however are from Tacoma, the city where Rainier is a beer.



Mt Rainier 1936

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This site is about the way history, in this case of a city and it's surrounds, is remembered or recorded in stories and small bits of memory. It's also about the way images and stories go together, how they inform and enrich each other and how we as thinking people fill in the content between a narrative and a visual document. So here is my city in time past, the way it looked and the people and events that create its character. For more than 20 years I have taught a 5 credit course on the History of Tacoma at the University of Washington Tacoma. With an average of 30 or 40 students a year, each doing a research paper as their primary focus for the course, I have benefited from many paths of inquiry and many researched and assembled stories. Here are some of them in the retelling along with the treasures of photographs and images in the collections of the Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma Public Library, University of Washington Digital Archives, Washington State Archives at the Office of the Secretary of State, Library of Congress, Washington State University, Alaska State Library, and many other archives, libraries and private collections.

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