FINDING PARADISE ON THE SOUTH SLOPE OF MOUNT RAINIER
After a deal made with the Northern Pacific Railroad that traded worthless mountain top rock and ice for valuable timber lands, Mount Rainier became the nation’s fifth national park in 1899.
It was nearly inaccessible until 1910 when a road was hacked up the south slope from the Puget Lowland to a wildflower-filled meadow just beyond the end of the glaciers known as Paradise Valley. The auto tourists that followed required accommodations, which when built attracted more auto tourists needing accommodations.
The rustic lodge “parkitecture” favored at all the early national parks was the inspiration for Mt. Rainier’s Paradise Inn opened for the 1917 season soon after the formation of the National Park Service. The hotel was operated by the Rainier National Park Company who bought five Kenworth “red jammers” in 1937 to inaugurate bus service to the park from Seattle and Tacoma that lasted until 1962.
Happy Depression-era campers had to be more well-off than people who at the same time were camping in their cars because they were homeless. The Rainier National Park Company, Mt. Rainier’s sole concessionaire, built the Paradise Camp and its Community Kitchen in 1931.
The Rainier National Park Company built 275 “housekeeping cabins” at Mt. Rainier’s Paradise Camp in 1931, the year this postcard depiction of the new camp was published
Auto tourists to Mt. Rainier National Park filled the Paradise Campground to overflowing on summer weekends as depicted in this 1935 postcard view.