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Developing Paradise - Asahel Curtis




Asahel Curtis loved Mt. Rainier; some people thought that he almost worshipped it. He photographed it thousands of times and climbed it dozens of times. Curtis was a founding member of the Mountaineers, the Northwest climbing group that also promoted preservation of wilderness areas. In 1917 he was chief guide at Mt. Rainier National Park. He chaired the Mt. Rainier National Park Advisory Committee from 1911-1936, and sought to promote accessibility to the park and to boost tourism by building roads within the park's boundaries. A noted outdoorsman and regional booster, he operated a commercial photography studio in Seattle for 30 years.


"He is a poor mountaineer indeed who has not returned to his home the better for the many lessons learned in the solitudes. The trivial things of life; the petty cares that to us seem so great slink back in the presence of this majestic mountain." --from a report on the 1909 outing of the Mountaineers, Asahel Curtis papers, Special Collections, Manuscripts and University Archives, University of Washington Libraries.


"The orderly continuation of the road construction program, and the physical improvements necessary to care for the increasing number of visitors, particularly to new areas opened to the public is very desirable. The improvement of Washington State roads leading to the park boudnaries has made the park accessible to all parts of the state hence when a new area within the park is opened there is a large influx of visitors....Rainier National Park Advisory Board, Asahel Curtis, Chairman." --from The Rainier National Park Advisory Board, Mount Rainier National Park Budget for 1937. Special Collections, Manuscripts and University Archives, University of Washington Libraries, Tomlinson Album, collection 29.