Pierce Pioneer

The legends and history of mount rainier

Standing at 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier is one of Washington State’s natural treasures and iconic landscapes. The glacial peak is an active volcano, but thriving with wildlife, an aged forest, rivers, missing hikers, hidden dangers, history and even legends.

“Mount Rainier National Park is part of the traditional lands of indigenous people who have been here for generations,” the National Park website stated. “We learn from their example of stewardship and respect for the land.”

From Native American tribes, world explorers, tourists, industrialism, the Great Depression, WWII and picnicking families, all have visited the iconic landscape. Mount Rainier has seen people and times of all kinds. At first glance when visiting the park, the land begins to articulate the tales of its life and the enchantment ensues.

The Cowlitz, Muckleshoot, Nisqually, Puyallup, Squaxin, Island and Yakama were some of the native tribes who presided over the mountain. Archeologists have discovered that the ancestors of these tribes would hunt seasonally and gather resources like medicinal plants and berries. For thousands of years the native people were living on and traveling to Mount Rainier.

A native American guide named Sluiskin in 1833 led a party of European settlers to the mountain and was concerned with their intention of climbing. The concern was due to the belief that a malevolent spirit lived at the lake of fire on the summit.

The tribes knew the stories of the volcano and never climbed past the snowline. Mount Rainier and other volcanoes, according to their stories, had romantic relationships with each other. The natives considered them deities who were vengeful and erratic with their love affairs and each having an evil spirit at their peaks.   

The mountain was known to the tribes as Talol, Takoma or Tahoma, meaning “mother of waters,” or “snow-covered mountain.” Yet another possible meaning is “larger than mount baker.” The current name was given by George Vancouver, who named it Rainier in honor of his friend, Rear Admiral Peter Rainier in 1792.

In 1899, various businesses, scientists and mountaineers came together to establish a park around Mount Rainier, thus making it the nation’s fifth national park. When agriculture, grazing and mining on the mountain met with difficulties, the interest shifted toward tourism and study of the glacial terrain. Even after the opening of the park the mountain remained important to the native people.

Many changes began to be seen at the mountain once the park opened. By 1930 roads were being built and surveyed, and The Paradise Inn was opened with plans to develop the Sunrise Day Lodge. All the changes brought about debate to how much of the area should be developed or left as wilderness.

During the Great Depression, the park started to try and add more attractions. Visitation to the park was down even after a nine-hole golf course, a new area at the Sunrise and plans for a ski lift were being added. With visitors still dwindling, the park received funding from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” for improvements to campgrounds, trails and forest fire protection.

During WWII the park saw little visitors and was instead used as a training ground for the 10th Mountain Division, who were known as skier soldiers, with a unique style of combat. After the war the focus for an increase in visitors to the park started.

In the mid-1950s the federal government started a project called Mission 66 and were seeking to upgrade national parks nationwide. Mount Rainier would be the first to get development under the new program and served as an example to various national trends.

Since the opening of the park, there have been millions of people who have visited and almost half a million people have attempted a climb to the summit. The mountain is used in many different ways recreationally and certain areas have been zoned for those purposes. 98% of the park was designated as wilderness by the Washington Wilderness Act of 1988 and there has been an effort to understand and protect the natural resources.

Historically the mountain has been significant to many people, whether native or otherwise. A lot of changes, views and meaning of the mountain have shifted since the start, but with all the increase in use can the park remain standing for more generations to enjoy?

“If the past history is any guide,” the park website stated, “The park will adapt to new challenges and continue to preserve the mountain as a place of wonder.” 

A look at the Tacoma Method and Washington’s history of perpetrating Anti-Asian attacks

This year and the last has seen almost no end to its racial violence and injustice since the pandemic began. Specifically, Asian attacks have been a much more common occurrence. While some would say this is a new and unexpected thing to happen, others know that Washington has a long history of Anti-Asian attacks dating all the way back to the 18th century.

In 1848, the California Gold Rush began and the news of this fortune traveled quickly across the seas to different countries. In China, people spoke of the Gam Saan — Gold Mountain — as many sons left their parents, wives and children to seek fortune for themselves and their families in America.

By 1855 the Gold Rush had ended, but immigrants from China were still arriving in groups to find work placing railroad tracks for the Pacific Railway. Their acceptance of low wages and long hours made them preferable workers to those who had been protesting for better conditions. Thus they took over a majority of the workforce. This didn’t sit well with the European workers of the time and soon the anti-Chinese movement was on the rise.

Labor organizations united under the anti-Chinese dog whistle “The Chinese must go”, and committees were soon meeting to plot their courses of action on how to get the Chinese out of their state. Even Taccoma’s mayor of the time, Jacob Weisbach, was a supporter of this movement as he issued a congress that would seek to expel the Chinese community by November.

The riot began on November 3, 1885 when 500 white citizens of Tacoma marched through Tacoma’s Chinatown and gave its residents only a few short hours to pack what they could before forcefully evicting them from their homes and businesses. This included their white supporters, as both were forced out of the city via wagons or on a train leaving for Portland.

Several days later the town was razed to the ground; businesses and homes were burned with no aid from Tacoma’s Fire Department at the time.

When the smoke had cleared and the ruins of the once bustling Chinatown lay vacant, only 27 culprits of the 900 were convicted; these men are known as the Tacoma 27 and the primary indicators and actors of The Tacoma Method.

A potential summer of low air quality

Helpful advice on how Washingtonians can prepare for the upcoming wildfires and poor air quality to come

With a rainy winter behind us and a hot and dry summer ahead of us, it’s likely to expect that we’ll soon be entering smoke season, a time of year when the air quality becomes poor and forested areas more susceptible to wildfires. Below is all you need to know about the side effects of smoke season and how to best prepare yourself and your home this summer.

The first and most important thing about smoke season that people should know about are the health risks. Smoke inhalation is naturally bad for people’s skin, heart and lungs. But for those more vulnerable to COVID-19, or those recovering from it, smoke can be much more dangerous. According to the USDA, wildfires and COVID-19 cases overlap.

“Exposure to air pollutants in wildfire smoke can irritate the lungs, cause inflammation, alter immune function, and increase susceptibility to respiratory infections, likely including COVID-19,” USDA stated. To ensure you and your family stay safe, wear cloth masks outside and stay indoors when the air quality is poor.

In terms of preserving good indoor air quality, Public Health Insider advises keeping windows and doors closed and avoiding burning candles or smoking or vacuuming inside. PHI also adds that air filters such as HVAC systems or portable air cleaners can improve air quality throughout your home rather than just a single room.

Finally, remember to clear out any dried bramble or foliage around your house to reduce the risk of brush fires in your immediate area, and keep fire-resistant tools and equipment nearby. Talk with your family and keep an eye out for updates on weather and remember to stay safe!

Summer elevating wildfire concerns

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources and their partners are taking measures to urge Washingtonians to take proper precaution against wildfires. The caution is being led by raising fire danger ratings and making Washingtonians aware the danger could have a longer reach this summer.

“This is no longer just an eastern Washington issue,” said Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. “Wherever you live in Washington State you are at risk of wildfires.”

In the month of April, the state had over 220 wildfires in comparison to last April with 160. According to the DNR, 80%-90% of fires are caused by people.

As the statewide drought continues, the more rapid the fire season timelines progress. Practicing safety and care to not cause a spark during recreational times or while doing yard work is best to avoid starting an accidental fire.

DNR saw hotter and drier temperatures along with the drought forecast and saw hotter and dryer landscapes throughout the state. This puts more homes at risk.

Debris-pile burns in April were seen to have been the cause of most fires. DNR suggests residents build a wildfire defensible space around their homes.

The urgency from DNR is for Washingtonians to take time and help their families be safe. Residents can find fire danger ratings for their areas and wildfire prevention and preparedness online at the DNR website.

Washington moving to Phase 3

On May 18, 2021, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that Washington state is moving to Phase 3 and reopening June 30. If at least 70% of Washingtonians over the age of 16 begin to get vaccinated before then, the reopening date could be sooner; currently we are at 56%.


The list of permitted activities is on the Roadmap to Recovery. It includes 50 people at an outdoor home event, 50% capacity for indoor sports and fitness facilities and 400 people at outdoor entertainment establishments. 


The reopening was recently paused for two weeks, but hopefully it doesn’t need to be pushed back any further. Washington will go back to a lower phase if the statewide ICU capacity exceeds 90%. If all goes well, then Washingtonians should be able to enjoy the sun this summer.


To be up to date on Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcements, visit his website here.

Statewide Restrictions for Washington Are Here

Washington State issues a statewide four-week restriction on social gatherings amidst rising COVID-19 cases, taking full effect following Monday, Nov. 15. These restrictions will carry through the upcoming holidays, including Thanksgiving, with a suspected end-date of Dec. 14. This announcement comes from Gov. Jay Inslee during a press conference held on Sunday.

Inslee spoke on a potential third wave of cases projected to hit Washington during the holidays, this being the restriction’s main motivator. “Inaction here is not an option,” Inslee said. “We have to take bold, decisive action and we are doing that today.”

“Average daily cases in [Washington] have doubled just in the last two weeks. It cannot go on like this. We have to get this under control, or our medical system will soon be overwhelmed.”

As reported by Google statistics, Washington has seen a sharp increase of confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 1,753 new cases being last reported on Monday alone. Washington state currently has 135,365 confirmed cases, with Pierce County making up 14,453 of these cases. This follows the increase of cases in Pierce County by 2,694 people since Nov. 2.

Source: www.governor.wa.gov An infographic of new cases in Washington State provided by Governor Jay Inslee

Monday’s new restrictions will primarily affect indoor gatherings and operations, as Inslee aims to limit the amount of in-person contact. K-12, higher education, child care, and court related proceedings will not be affected by new restrictions however, as stated by the Medium. Restaurants will also continue to provide take-out and delivery services as before.

Indoor gatherings have been prohibited, with gathering capacities being no more than five people at a time. Restaurants and bars will be closing indoor services as well, with religious gatherings, in-store retail and grocery stores limiting to 25% capacity. Fitness facilities and gyms will also close, alongside zoos, aquariums, bowling alleys, movie theaters and museums. 

For those looking to best prepare for upcoming restrictions, this week would be the week to get groceries and supplies. As these restrictions approach and certain facilities begin closing, shoppers have already begun stockpiling groceries and cleaning supplies, similarly to when restrictions were first introduced in March. Whatsmore, with Thanksgiving only a week away, there may be a potential shortage in groceries, as more places across the country report a rise in shoppers.

The Washington Emergency Management Division has since released a statement on Monday regarding the increase in shoppers this week. “We see the bare shelves in some places and recognize that some folks are panic buying,” the division states.

“Grocery stores are continuing to receive supplies like normal. The supply chains will remain strong as long as people only buy what they need. Don’t forget your mask and to maintain social distance in stores and please stay patient with hardworking employees, who are just trying to do their job.”

These restrictions will be here until Dec. 14. For more information on COVID-19 in Washington state and the current guidelines being placed by county, Inslee regularly reports any announcements on his personal site. Any further information and updates will be provided here until then.

Pierce College’s Faculty and Alumni Celebrate 50 Years

A profile of how Pierce College has morphed from beginning to present


2017 will mark Pierce College’s 50th anniversary. All over the campus and in the current catalog there are banners and signs celebrating the milestone.  As part of the celebration Pierce College will be having its first Homecoming game on Saturday and entertainment open to the community on Sunday. Along with a car show and food trucks, festivities include alumni reunions and artists booths. But the fun will not stop there; other festivities are planned throughout the school year.

However, a look at the history of Pierce College revealed it is much older than that and bears very little resemblance to its origins.

In the 1940’s, Clover Park School District had a partnership with the federal government. The district taught government-sponsored programs to government workers and members of the military. Then, as the men were coming home from the second World War, members of the district began teaching adult education classes, known as the 13th grade.

Arthur G. Hudtloff, the Clover Park Superintendent at the time, coordinated with the WA State Education Board to create an education system to serve the growing need for business education as these were not classes being taught at the technical college.

The work was hampered somewhat by politics as the state legislature was slow to change a law that prohibited junior or community colleges in regions that had 4-year universities.

The Clover Park Community College, as it was known then, shared space with Clover Park High School. Finally, in 1967, the Community College Act was passed. This separated junior and community colleges from the regular school districts and allowed a bridge between high school and universities.

 Once the act was passed, the college was able to operate independently of the district, so it no longer needed to share space with the high school.

The first location was an abandoned grocery store. “Alberton’s U,” as it was affectionately known, had its share of challenges. Because of the open design of the building, heating consistently was difficult.  To maximize the use of the space, rolling portable dividers were used to make classroom walls. Consequently, the students in the history classes held at one of the building could also hear the psychology professor at the other end. The teachers often joked that they were teaching each other’s classes. Additionally, the student lounge was located in the former walk-in freezer. Even so, the community college finally had its own space.

Finally in 1970 the Board purchased property for the campus However, when the sign went up, the name of the college had been changed to Fort Steilacoom Community College to better reflect the surrounding community it was intended to serve.

From 1970 to 1974, students used portables parked on the muddy ground and watched the future of their college take shape.

By 1974, the first building was finally open for administration and classes. It still carries the name it was given, the Cascade Building. It still hosts the same administration and registration offices, but the building has expanded to include the library and cafeteria.

The Ft. Steilacoom campus has changed considerably over the years. One of the biggest changes took place in the Cascade building. In the 70’s performances were held in the Performance Lounge. Setting the stage was not the only challenge; seating was also problematic. Danny Marshall, who currently serves as one of the guest directors for the theater programs, remembers being a student at that time and the challenges presented. “When doing a stage production, you want people to be able to see everything on the stage. Having people sit in evenly spaced chairs made that nearly impossible. We were very happy when we were able to salvage theater seats from an old theater being remodeled in DuPont.” Risers were built for the seats as they came only as a set of theater seats attached in single rows. The only drawback was they would have to be brought in from storage when a production was being performed. Once the theater was built in the 80’s productions were easier. More changes came when the library was expanded and the theater was moved to its current location.

Since its creation, the College has served Pierce County’s residents in several ways. In the 70’s and 80’s it brought its “Possibilities Realized” motto to inmates on McNeil Island as well as provided internship training at Western State Hospital for those working towards a degree in Health and Human Services.

Additionally, due to the growth of Pierce County, a satellite campus was built in Puyallup’s South Hill in 1979. This campus continues to thrive and actually hosts around half of the student body enrolled in Pierce.

To continue to meet the demands, construction was done on both campuses. More classrooms and more programs for degrees and certifications were added.

Eventually, since the school reached farther than just Fort Steilacoom, the name was changed again to Pierce College in 1986.

In keeping with the commitment to serve the community, in early 2000’s a partnership was created with the Lakewood Clubhouse and the Web Design Program. In an interview given in October of 2006, Aishe Dent, and student in the program served as one of the coordinators for Lake City. When asked about the program, she said, “It is really important because in Lake City there aren’t all of things for kids to do after school…. not only that but it uses their creativity and expand their interest in technology.” The program still continues today and includes classes with emphasis on STEM courses.

Today the Board overseeing the College is still looking toward the future. Most recently, it has expanded the degree programs to include Bachelor’s degrees. It has come a long way from the 9 faculty members who had to decide what to teach.

Over the years Pierce College has earned a more than a few awards and recognition in various programs. After winning the Reno International Jazz Festival in 2006, one of the members summed up the spirit of the school. “Our greatest strength is probably our individual strengths, because we all bring something different,” said Brecklynn Bradford.

 This year the graduating class of 2016 had over 2,000 graduates; of those graduates 1,500 students earned Associate’s degrees, 500 students earned certificates, and 62 students crossed the stage with a high school diploma.

Today, over 20,000 students are enrolled in the Pierce College system, between the Fort Steilacoom, Puyallup, and the partnership between JBLM. Over half are first-generation students and each one is here to see possibilities realized.

Western Washington holiday events

The month of December brings out family oriented holiday activities and events all over Washington. Included below are lists of events that are happening


Holly Buchanan Staff Writer

Chelatchie Prairie Railroad in Yacolt, Washington
A volunteer non-profit organization that offers steam and diesel engine train rides also gives Christmas and Santa train rides for the holidays on Dec. 1, 7, 8, 14, and 15 at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Trees can be added for an additional cost. For those purchasing less than four tickets single passengers tickets are $18 for one adult, $17 for seniors 60 and older, $13 for ages 5-12, $11 for ages 2-4 and children under two get in free of charge. Be prepared with warm clothes as the passenger cars are open.

Zoo Lights at the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma
Point Defiance lights up their zoo with over a half-million lights now until Jan. 5 (excluding Christmas Eve/Day and New Year’s). Tickets are $8.75 at the gate, $16.25 for adults, $15.75 for seniors, $15.25 for ages 5-12, $13 for ages 3-4 and free for ages 2 and under. Parking is free. A scuba-diving Santa swims with sharks on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 6p.m. on Dec 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18. Be sure to dress warm as this event takes place outside for the most part.

Fantasy Lights in Spanaway Park
Fantasy Lights is the largest holiday drive-through display in the Pacific Northwest. There are about 300 displays of lights making thousands of lights to fill a park. It’s a two-mile drive parallel to Spanaway Lake. During the drive families can tune their car radio to 93.7 FM to hear holiday music performed by local high schools. This event is taking place now through Jan. 1 from 5:30 to 9 p.m, including Christmas and New Year’s Day. Tickets are $13 per vehicle including mini-buses for up to 14 passengers and $45 per bus holding 25 or more passengers. Ten dollar tickets will be sold until they run out at Lakewood Community Center, Sprinker Recreation Center, and Garfield book Company at PLU. Discounted tickets are not available for buses. Customers also can print a $3 off ticket on the Pierce County website (http://www.co.pierce.wa.us).

Seattle Center Winterfest
Seattle Center is holding a Winterfest that includes everything from an ice skating rink to an ice sculpting show. The ice rink is now through Jan. 5, Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. located in the Fisher Pavillion. Ticket prices, which include skate rentals, are $7 for adults, $5 for ages 6-12 and $2 for ages 5 and under. Winterfest ice sculpting will take place on Dec. 7, 14, 21 and 28 from noon to 2 p.m. This event is located outside the Fisher Pavillion and is free. To check out more events going on at Seattle Center’s Winterfest, go online at www.seattlecenter.com/winterfest.

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker
In Seattle the Pacific Northwest Ballet features the Nutcracker ballet performance with an orchestra, original set and costume designs. There are over 200 dancers and snow falling in every performance. The orchestra will be performing Tchaikovsky’s music. This event takes place now until the end of December excluding Christmas Day. Tickets range from $43 to $133 and vary by seat chosen.

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