Donald Johnstone’s book offers a photo history of Mount Rainier

Arcadia recently published a new book in the Postcard History Series, written by Donald M. Johnstone and titled “Mount Rainier National Park”.

Donald Johnstone signed copies of his book 'Mount Rainier National Park' at Costco Saturday. The book was published by Arcadia in the Postcard History series.

Arcadia recently published a new book in the Postcard History Series, written by Donald M. Johnstone and titled “Mount Rainier National Park”.

According to Johnstone, the name Mount Rainier was first used in 1792 by Captain George Vancouver of the British Royal Navy. Vancouver saw the 14,410 foot mountain from where he was in the Port Townsend area and named it after his friend, Rear Admiral Peter Rainier. Before that time, it was called Tahoma by local Native Americans.

Mount Rainier was declared a national park in 1899. It boasts a diverse wildlife and the largest glacier system in the continental United States. The park consists of several different forest zones including alpine, subalpine and subtropical rain forest.

Though currently dormant, Mount Rainier is a 500,000-year old active volcano. Enjoying the intense beauty of the park is generally considered safe, but it doesn’t come without risk. It last erupted sometime between 1820 and 1894, according to the National Park Service. In addition to volcanic eruptions, the communities in and around the park are potentially at danger in the event of a lahar or glacial outburst flood, both of which can occur without warning.

According to theNational Park Service website, “New research indicates Mount Rainier is far more active than previously believed … While many people believe the danger to be minimal, only you can decide if you want to spend time in this unpredictable and changing landscape.”

Inspiration hit during research and development for his first Arcadia book, titled “Images of America: Upper Nisqually Valley”. It was during that time Johnstone was introduced to the local stories and postcard images of Mount Rainier.

He began researching the national park by studying private postcard collections but he quickly realized the necessity to dig deeper if he wanted a complete image of the park’s history. The South Pierce County Historical Society and the Mount Rainier National Park archives served as additional resources.

“While researching my first book, I met a number of people who had stories about the park. I also discovered Rick Johnson at Ashford Creek Pottery and Gallery, in Ashford, and his amazing postcard collection with a Mount Rainier theme. The most pleasurable part of the process was … the opportunity to seek out people who had stories to tell and cards to share,” he said.

Johnstone currently lives in Mineral with his wife but has also spent portions of his life in Seattle, Maple Valley, Enumclaw and numerous other communities in Washington, Idaho and Alaska. He suggested the book may be used in a multitude of ways. It would make a great reminiscent gift for dad or grandpa, but it can also be used as a guide for new adventures in the park. Many of the photographs and captions include milepost markings, which makes it easy to compare historical views with contemporary ones. The book also contains images and stories of the backcountry — places and events that are unreachable in many cases and may be lost to history.

The book is available for purchase at Costco, Amazon and the Foothills Historical Society in Buckley.


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