Paperback / softback
November 22, 2006
24 illus.
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
.82 Pounds (US)
$30.00 USD
v2.1 Reference

National Park, City Playground

Mount Rainier in the Twentieth Century

The majestic beauty of Mount Rainier, which dominates the Seattle and Tacoma skyscapes, has in many ways defined the Pacific Northwest. At the same time, those two major cities have strongly influenced the development of Rainier as a national park. From the late 1890s, when the Pacific Forest Reserve became Mount Rainier National Park, the evolving relationship between the mountain and its surrounding residents has told a history of the region itself. That story also describes the changing nature of our national park system.

From the late nineteenth century to the present, park service representatives and other officials have created policies, built roads and hotels, and regulated public use of and access to Mount Rainier. Conflicting interests have shaped the decision-making process and characterized human interaction with the park. The Rainier National Park Company promoted Paradise Inn as a destination resort for East Coast tourists; Cooperative Campers of the Pacific Northwest developed backcountry camps for working-class recreationists; Asahel Curtis of the Good Roads Association wanted a road encircling the mountain; The Mountaineers promoted free public campgrounds and a roadless preserve; others focused on managing and protecting the upper mountain. The National Park Service mediated among the various parties while developing their own master plan for the park.

In an engaging and accessible style, historian Theodore Catton tells the story of Mount Rainier, examining the controversies and compromises that have shaped one of America's most beautiful and beloved parks. National Park, City Playground reminds us that the way we manage our wilderness areas is a vital concern not only for the National Park Service, but for all citizens.

About the Author

Theodore Catton is an historian living in Missoula, Montana. He is the author of Inhabited Wilderness: Indians, Eskimos, and National Parks in Alaska.


"National Park, City Playground is clearly written, free of jargon, and accessible by professional and nonprofessional readers. It would be useful in classrooms . . . . [and] it offers urban planners a case study in the significance of natural landmarks in city projects and as a marker of local identity. It also provides urban historians with an approach to understand the matrix of competing interests. Overall, Catton provides a useful contribution to our understanding of the National Park Service."—H-Net

"Drawing on a wide-ranging and comprehensive collection of primary and secondary sources, Catton has given full treatment to the political wrangling, legislation, and policies that resulted in the ever-changing functions of Mount Rainier National Park. . . . The book is certainly one of the most informative and enjoyable books on the topic."—Pacific Northwest Quarterly

"Theodore Catton's deft new book charts how the creation of Mount Rainier National Park was inseparable from the citizens of the two cities that laid claim to the mountain and made it their own. . . . The result is a model of shrewd scholarship that future parks historians might emulate. . . .His book reminds us that the looming heights of 'the Mountain,' as Seattleites and Tacomans call the peak, speak to a complex history that environmentalists and historians would both do well to remember."—Western Historical Quarterly

"The author does an excellent job of contextualizing Mount Rainier within the larger history of the national park system and the political economic history of the United States, and he carefully follows the thread of local influence on park development. Perhaps most usefully, Catton provides a means by which readers can understand the park in its current form."—Oregon Historical Quarterly

"Catton delivers an insightful book with a comprehensive bibliography highlighted by a host of manuscript collections. Mount Rainier aficionados will want to add the book to their collections. . . . His synthesis. . . is both edifying and thorough."—Columbia Magazine

"Catton's National Park, City Playground offers an excellent example of the disappearing boundary between public and academic history. . . . Catton is at the vanguard of the new generation of historians whose work is bridging the divide between public history and academic scholarship. I highly recommend this work as a fine example of what public history can accomplish."—Montana: The Magazine of Western History

"This is a superb book, a real gem, which should be required reading by all who enjoy Mount Rainier National Park and the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Washington…Highly recommended."—Choice


"Catton is exceptional at allowing one to view the details through his extensive research and exploration of the history of the making of Mount Rainer National Park…. If you believe (like I generally did) that the initiation and development of a national park… is a relatively simple affair designed around the natural value of the land, then you will find this book an eye-opener."—Natural Areas Journal

"Readers will realize that they are part of the story of the park—whether they view the peak on the horizon, visit on weekends, stay in the park's hotels, or engage in more physically demanding activities."—David Louter, author of Windshield Wilderness: Cars, Roads, and Nature in Washington's National Parks

9780295986432 : national-park-city-playground-catton
Paperback / softback
$30.00 USD

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