Thursday, August 21, 2008

Park Ranger Stan Jones


Park Ranger Stan Jones
by Doug Evans

During my many years of living in, growing up in, and working in Mount Rainier National Park, I was privileged and honored to know some of the finest people in the world. Each was special for his or her own personal and unique qualities and abilities. Some stand out in my memory for also being interesting and unusual characters. Stan Jones was one of these. Stan was truly a real character.

Stan entered on duty as a park ranger in March, 1945. He and his lovely wife, Olive, were assigned to NPS quarters #23. They were both vivacious friendly people and quickly became popular members of the Longmire community. Stan sported a perpetual broad grin, was frequently amused and chuckling. But, one thing did not please Stan: Pacific Northwest weather. Stan was born and raised in Douglas, Arizona, on the Mexican border, and yearned to get back to his beloved Southwest desert.

Stan’s great passion was country western music. Never shy, he always brought his guitar to social gatherings and, without encouragement, would begin to play and sing. Even though he could not read a note of music, Stan composed many of his own songs, including the lyrics. At these occasions, groups would often begin to disperse, politely drifting off to the kitchen or bathroom. Nobody seemed to appreciate Stan’s talents. But, this did not discourage Stan.

Before Christmas Stan organized the Longmire young folks to go caroling. We met in the back dining room of National Park Inn around the ancient upright piano to practice. Stan’s inability to read music was so total that he could not strike the first note on the piano to give us the proper pitch. So, obviously, his musical composing and performances were strictly by ear.

Finally the NPS gods smiled down on Stan and he was offered a transfer to Death Valley. He was ecstatic, he thought he was going to park ranger heaven. Once there, his habits didn’t change. One evening while on duty with a film crew from Hollywood, Stan immodestly pulled out his guitar to entertain the group. He impressed and amazed some of these folks by playing one of his own compositions: “Ghost Riders in the Sky”. Some from this group introduced Stan to the right people in Hollywood, and Stan’s NPS career was soon over. With hit recordings by stars like Vaughn Monroe, Sons of the Pioneers, Marty Robins, Johnnie Cash, et al, Ghost Riders was on top of the charts for many months. Finally Stan had found an appreciative audience. How wrong we at Longmire had been back in 1945.

That was just the beginning. Stan went on to write many songs for movies and to act in many of them: “Wagon Master”, “Rio Grande”, “The Searchers”, “The Horse Soldiers”, and many more. He acted regularly in the television series “The Sheriff of Cochise” and wrote many of the episodes.

In summer 1957, Stan returned to Mount Rainier while working on a new LP album, “Songs of the National Parks”. He came to our house for dinner one evening; we were living in quarters #23, the same house that he and Olive had occupied back in 1945. He brought his guitar, of course, and played his original version of Ghost Riders for us and some of his new songs for the National Parks album.

PHOTO: This snapshot was taken that evening in ’57 of Stan with my two children, Dan and Sue, and my younger brother, David.

Stan died prematurely in 1963 at age 49 and is buried in Douglas, Arizona. He was elected to the Western Music Association Hall of Fame in 1997.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008



Teen Ranger
by Doug Evans

During World War II Mount Rainier National Park underwent many drastic changes. All of the eligible male employees were gone to the military. To compensate, Congress allowed the hiring of part- time and seasonal employees down to age sixteen. This opened the door for me. My first day of NPS employment was April 15, 1944 at the age of sixteen. I was classified as a junior laborer at $0.675/hour.

My first jobs were with Chief Park Naturalist Howard Stagner in the park museum at Longmire. I glass mounted hundreds of 35 mm slides, as was the custom in those days. One morning we discovered that the bottom of the oil heater had burned through during the night and the entire museum, down-stairs and up-stairs, was filled with oily soot. I spent many days cleaning up the mess. Then, during the summer of ’44 I worked with the blister rust crew and as a fire control aide out of the fire shed at Longmire on a hot shot crew that spent the summer doing trail maintenance. Luckily we had no fires.

During the winters of 1944-45 and 1945-46 my job was to assist the Paradise district ranger, Gordon Bender, with weekend ski patrols to Paradise. The Paradise road was open only two miles above Longmire to the Powerhouse turn directly across the road from today’s Cougar Rock Campground. Despite this, and the tight rationing of gasoline, a few hardy and determined skiers continued to come on weekends. So, each Saturday and holiday morning, Gordon and I would strap the skins on and ski up the trail, past the powerhouse on the Paradise River, past Narada Falls, and on to the Paradise ranger station. Sometimes we had to dig down to the second story window to get in. An oil stove burned in the ranger station all winter so it was always a welcome relief to get inside. We would then raise the flag and dig out a welcoming entryway to the door so visitors could see that the ranger station was opened and manned. During the weekend we would open the NPS community building where there was fire wood for skiers to build a warming fire in the fireplace. And, we’d inspect Paradise Lodge and Inn for possible snow damage. On Sunday evening we checked the area to insure that all skiers were gone and then ski back down the trail to be sure that everyone was safely out.

These patrols were greatly eased during the 1945-46 winter when the U.S. Army loaned NPS two M29 Weasels, the tracked vehicles built by Studebaker specially designed for over snow use. One of these had a heavy plywood passenger cabin, the other was canvas topped – a convertible. During especially cold and stormy days we’d take the covered model with its warm heater. On pleasant weekends we would take the convertible. They were great fun to drive and to ski behind. The Weasels did not relieve us of the responsibility to patrol the trail down from Paradise each Sunday evening. Being the junior one, this duty fell to me. I loved it! I never tired of skiing the trail from Paradise, down past Narada Falls, down along the Paradise River past the powerhouse and to the road where Gordon would meet me with the Weasel for the ride back to Longmire. This was a most fabulous job for a high school teenager. And, what a perfect beginning for my subsequent NPS career.
PHOTOS: Army M29 Weasels at Paradise Ranger Station, winter 1945-46

Thursday, July 10, 2008


by Doug Evans

PHOTO: Elsie Murakami, Ashford Grade School
Fifth grade, 1939

This item is dedicated to Elsie Murakami and the other Japanese children who attended Ashford Grade School and Eatonville High School up until 1942.

Each of the lumbering towns of the Northwest had a population of Japanese families. There was a large number at National, the company town of the Pacific National Lumber Company, one mile west of Ashford. They lived in a segregated community on the lower level just south of the main town. It was always referred to as Jap Camp. There never was any social mixing of the races. There were prejudices against them, but no serious conflicts that I can remember.

There were Japanese kids in every one of my classes during my eight years at Ashford Grade School. I can recall no racial problems or prejudicial feelings among the kids. The Japanese kids tended to be shy and quiet but we always played together happily.

PHOTO: A portion of the Ashford second grade, 1936.
The girls in the back row are Kioko and Frances. Elsie is in the front row.
I don’t remember the boys’ names. I am the kid in the second row with suspenders.

But then came Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, and the world we had known was never to be again. Prejudices that had festered beneath the surface now erupted; hatred was extreme and expressed openly. While some of this did seep into the schools—the Japanese kids were occasionally called “Japs”—mostly we felt sorry for them and they continued to be our friends. The greatest tragedy of all was the forced deportation of the Japanese families to internment camps. The National families were sent to the Tule Lake camp in California.

PHOTO: Ashford Grade School, eighth grade, spring 1942
Front row, left to right: Kioko, Elsie, Frances

By the spring of 1942 only three Japanese girls remained in our eighth grade graduating class. The rest were already dispatched to Tule Lake. The families of the three girls were packed and ready to be shipped out. Eighth grade graduation was always a big event in the Ashford – National community. Elsie was class valedictorian, most deservedly. So on the night of the ceremony, held in the gymnasium, Elsie was obligated to give the valedictory speech. The crowd was quietly hostile; a few low boos were heard, but Elsie stood, walked to the front of the stage completely terrified. Her knees were visibly shaking, She courageously delivered her speech, and sat down to silence. To this day this memory brings tears to this old ranger’s eyes.

Elsie and the others were soon gone. Later, during the War, Elsie’s older brother, Jack, served in the army in Italy, while his little sister and family were incarcerated in the concentration camp at Tule Lake. Few, if any, of these people could return after the War. Most businesses had signs in their windows: “No Japs Allowed”. I never saw any of them again and still wonder whatever happened to them.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


by Doug Evans

The year 1942 was an especially significant year for the World, for the United States, for Mount Rainier National Park, and for me personally. This was the first year of America's participation in World War II. In the U.S. the military draft was in full swing; many of the male employees, including most of the rangers of Mount Rainier were gone. My family and I moved from the mill site of the Paradise Mining and Milling Company down to Longmire. In the spring I graduated from the eighth grade at Ashford Grade School and in fall I entered Eatonville High School as a freshman.

My mother, Florence Evans, was hired by the Rainier National Park Company at National Park Inn at Longmire as the assistant manager. We moved into a Company house located in the old cottage area just west of the Inn. None of those buildings exist anymore. This was a significant upgrade in our standard of living, from the primitive cabin at the mill site to a house with running water, indoor bathroom, oil heat, and electric kitchen appliances.

The reality of The War was ever present at Mount Rainier. Not only were many of the men gone, but all of the concession housekeeping cabins were removed from Longmire, Paradise, and Sunrise and hauled to the Puget Sound area for employee housing near the shipyards and the Boeing airplane factory. The army made much use of the park for a variety of training and recreation purposes. Military airplanes, such as the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, were in the sky around the mountain virtually every day. Blackout rules were enforced even in isolated out of the way communities such as Longmire. All houses were fitted with blackout shades or curtains on the windows.

Also in 1942 I started my first job as a salaried employee. Congress had enacted war time legislation authorizing the National Park Service to hire seasonal and part time employees at sixteen years of age and for concessionaires to hire at fifteen years. I became fifteen in December, and went to work for the Rainier National Park Company in November—at age fourteen. (The general manager, Paul Sceva, was a good friend and politically influential.) I was hired as a laborer at $0.25/hour plus room and board. Since I was a Longmire resident, unlike most of the other Company employees, I opted to sleep at home.

Perhaps the saddest event of our lives during 1942 was the rounding up and deportation of the Japanese American families from the region to the various internment camps. National had a large Japanese population. The men worked for the Pacific National Lumber Company, and their children were our classmates at Ashford Grade School and Eatonville High School. The National families ended up at the Tule Lake Camp in California. They never came back.

PHOTO: Doug Evans and his mother, Florence, Longmire, 1943 (I think mother was aghast at my ever growing feet.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Getting to School from Longmire
by Doug Evans

Getting to school from Longmire was not always easy and , on occasion, could be very interesting. During my twelve years of school at Ashford Grade School and Eatonville High School, 1934-1946, we Mount Rainier kids caught the school bus each morning about 7:00 AM, either at the park headquarters building, or some years during World War II the bus only came up as far as the Nisqually Entrance. Parents took turns driving us down and picking us up in the evenings at Gateway Inn. During most of my grade school days we lived up at the mill site of the Paradise Mining and Milling Co., and so I had an extra two miles to go, usually with my dad who drove to Longmire to work each morning in our 1929 Model A Ford. In winter the road was usually plowed early up beyond the mill site, but occasionally it wasn’t, and if the night’s accumulation of snow was a foot or more, we had to walk. Yes, I actually did walk two miles through a foot of snow to get to school, but rarely.

PHOTO: Park Headquarters building, Longmire.

Getting to and from Eatonville High School entailed seventy miles on the bus each day. We used this time variously: snoozing, reading, chatting, quarreling, singing, and shooting craps. Yes, one of the boys from National made a small portable crap table over which lunch money ebbed and flowed. This was all during World War II, so the popular music of the day was dominated by patriotic and romantic songs, often laments for husbands and lovers who were overseas in the military. These were the songs commonly heard on the bus ride to and from Eatonville.

Another aspect of that bus ride was the abundant army traffic on the road. Convoys of army trucks were common and could slow the flow of traffic for miles. Occasional companies of marching recruits were strung out along the road between Longmire and Elbe, sometimes in rain or snow. One morning an army tank misjudged a sharp curve near the old town of Alder and was stuck nose down over a steep bank.

So, I think it’s safe to say that those two hours each day on the school bus were not boring. I have fond memories of it. It ended with my graduation in the EHS Class of 1946; there were 37 of us. We had a delightful 50th reunion party in Eatonville in 1996.

PHOTO: Ashford Grade School, located across the park highway from Von’s grocery store.

Friday, July 4, 2008


Memories of the Mount Rainier’s CCC Days
by Doug Evans

Much of my childhood at Mount Rainier was during the Great Depression. Fortunately my dad was employed by the National Park Service, so we were better off than the many millions of unemployed throughout the country and the world. Of the many programs initiated by the Roosevelt administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) had the greatest impact on Mount Rainier National Park. There were several camps and several hundred young men, “CCC boys”, at various locations in the park. Their good works are still obvious throughout the park.

One CCC project I remember was the re-routing of the Wonderland Trail around the mill site of the Paradise Mining and Milling Company, where we lived at the time. Two primary reasons prompted this change: the mill site was a rather shabby and unkempt place, not attractive to outdoor hikers, and the trail was not ten feet from our front porch and hikers occasionally walked into our house thinking it was an NPS ranger station. So, the trail was re-routed to a location below the edge of the site toward the Nisqually River, where it remains to this day. The construction was all hand work, there being no power trail equipment in those days. I would sit on the rim above watching the work and visiting with the CCC guys doing the work. As I recall, most of them were from southern states such as Alabama and Mississippi.

Another project I watched was the construction of the three large houses up on the hill above Longmire, designated for the park superintendent, the assistant superintendent, and the chief ranger. I often ran down the trail from the mine mill site to play with the kids at Longmire and so passed right by these construction sites and would pause to visit with the CCC boys. The first superintendent to occupy the uppermost house was John Preston in 1941.

Whenever I hear the name Sunshine Point, I think not of the campground, but of the large CCC camp there during the 1930s. I recall the many barracks buildings and the recreation hall where movies were shown weekly and NPS employees were invited to attend. This was a great treat for us and we attended regularly. The movie program was often introduced by a live talent show put on by the boys. They always seemed to be a happy bunch of kids, perhaps because of the fact that they had work and were employed in one of the most beautiful places in the world. So, when I heard that the big flood of 2006 had wiped out Sunshine Point, it wasn’t the loss of the campground that saddened me nearly as much as the loss of the site of the historic Sunshine Point CCC Camp. But, I still have my fond memories of it as it was during the ‘30s.

PHOTO: Sunshine Point CCC Camp. Photo courtesy National Park Service


Kid Stuff, Longmire, 1930s
by Doug Evans

Since we had no neighbors near our cabin at the mill site of the Paradise Mining & Milling Co., all of my social interactions with other kids of my age were at Longmire. Mostly, we just played unorganized games like tag, cowboys ‘n’ Indians, etc. There were also plenty of organized community activities: Fourth of July picnics, Halloween parties, and Santa Claus always arrived for the big Christmas party. And, there were as many birthday parties as there were kids.

This photo, in about 1936-37, was for Jackie Davis’ fifth or sixth birthday.

Back row, l. to r: First kid is me. I may have lived in a rustic remote cabin without plumbing, but I knew how to dress up for an occasion. Second, head barely showing is Carl Tice, Jr. His dad was long-time Nisqually district ranger. Carl retired as a roads and trails supervisor at MORA. Third is Maury Peterson; his dad worked in maintenance. Last is Johnny Anderson; his dad was a heavy equipment operator. Many years later, Johnny owned and operated Gateway Inn just outside the Nisqually entrance.

Front row, l. to r: Meredith Glen, son of Marlowe Glen of the administration division. Second is Bobby Tomlinson, son of Major Owen Tomlinson, the park superintendent; one of the legendary retired army officer superintendents of that era. Bobby had lost his lower right arm when he slid and fell from the roof of the garage at the superintendent’s residence at Nisqually entrance. Third is Jackie Davis, the birthday boy. His dad was chief ranger, John Davis. Much later Jack became superintendent at several parks, including Redwoods and Sequoia, where his dad had been superintendent some years earlier. He also served as regional director of Western Region. Jack retired as Associate Director of Operations, Washington office and currently lives in Green Valley, Arizona, just south of Tucson. We still see each other occasionally at retiree luncheons. Last is Richard Waterhouse, son of the park engineer.

During those days, when Longmire was park headquarters, is was a vital and idyllic community, a perfect place for a young kid to grow up. I am delighted and proud to call Longmire my home town.