|About the Site|
|Mt. Rainier National Park|
The most famous of the man-built structures in the park is Paradise Inn. This popular and historic lodge is located in the Paradise area at an altitude of 5400 feet. The lodge is located about 19 miles from the southwest entrance station.
The Paradise Meadow area was a prime destination for tourists early in the twentieth century. However, by the 1890's heavy use of and camping in the fragile meadow by tourists was causing considerable damage to it. In 1896 a tent camp was established in Paradise Park. This worried the new National Park Service, and its first director Stephen Mather let Seattle and Tacoma businessmen know that a new lodge was needed in that area. His influence eventually won out.
Construction of the inn began in 1915 and continued for two years. The buildling's frame is made of weathered Alaska cedar. These timbers were taken from standing timber damaged by an 1885 forest fire along the road to Paradise. These logs were hauled to Paradise Meadows by horses, and were milled on the site of the Inn. It is likely that this is one of the few very large buildings built entirely from the lumber of cedar trees taken from a single forest.
Paradise Inn is a 2 story building, but also features a 4 story annex. The original building was completed in 1917 and opened on July 1st of that year. The 100 room annex was added in 1920. The original lodge featured 33 guest rooms
The entrance to the main building, shown below, is actually on the third floor. There are no elevators in this building, and the guest rooms are relatively small, and do not provide a particularly good view of the mountain peak. But it is nevertheless provides a memorable experience for its guests.
The most noteworthy feature of the inn is probably the large timbered, cathedral-like lounge or lobby area. In this location the original Alaska cedar can clearly be seen. This room features a vaulted ceiling which runs the length of the building. The lobby, seen below, is very interesting.
For potential visitors, ParkVision recommends "Story Behind the Scenery" guides and "Trails Ilustrated" maps.
The lobby also contains many original features. This hand hewn cedar furniture was made by a German craftsman in during the period 1915-1917 using only an adze. Original features in the lobby include many of the furnishings, the large tables seen here, the ornate grandfather clock, and the piano which is handmade.
Each end of the lobby features huge stone fireplaces, 50-60 feet high.
In the 1950's the National Park Service contemplated plans to tear down the Inn. However, an outcry from the public which held the historic hotel in high regard eventually cause reconsideration of this plan. In 1970, the lodge underwent a $1.5 million renovation and upgrading project.
As discussed elsewhere, the Paradise Valley area receives an enormous amount of snow during the winter. The entire three story structure is often covered by snow. In 1971 -1972 the snowpack was an impressive 305 inches.
As can be seen, the roof of Paradise Inn is steeply pitched. This is not necessarily designed to allow the roofs to shed the snow which falls on it, as it becomes too deep for that. Rather, this pitch allows the weight of the snow on the roof to be distributed efficiently and transmitted to the ground.
In addition to the comfortable and impressive lobby, the main building also includes a wooden deck with a number of benches, tables, and chairs which allow guests and park visitors to enjoy the good weather in the summer.
From the deck of the Inn there is an impressive view of the Tatoosh Range to the south.
A number of famous people stayed in Paradise Inn during its history. These have included like Sonja Heine, Shirley Temple, Tyrone Power, and Cecil B. DeMille. A most noteworthy visitor was John D. Rockefeller Jr. whose contributions to the national parks of the United States were substantive. Rockefeller stayed in the Inn in 1921.
Beautiful views of the Inn can also be obtained from the trails above the visitor area, including the Tatoosh Range in the distance as shown below.
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