Promoting the Park


Both railroads and automobile companies played a large part in the promotion of Mount Rainier National Park as a tourist destination. Visitors came from all over the world, although with large urban areas close by, the park experienced a high volume of day-trippers right from the beginning.


"Railroad companies saw a potential for increased passenger revenue as the federal government began to establish national parks in the West. Railroad companies lobbied for national park bills, financed and operated national park hotels, and promoted tourism to the parks. In return, national parks attracted tourists from the eastern United States who might otherwise spend their leisure time in Europe. The association of national parks and railroads also improved the railroad companies' public relations." --Theodore Catton. Wonderland: An Administrative History of Mount Rainier National Park, 1996.

Railroad companies created a romantic vision of an unspoiled West, a mythology of never-ending vistas and sublime scenery, through their advertising and guidebooks. The Wonderland guides, pictured here, were published by the Northern Pacific Railway.



Mount Rainier National Park was the first park to admit cars (1907). Soon more tourists were coming to the park by car, than by train or stage. Eventually, as the railroad companies waned, local Chambers of Commerce, automobile clubs, petroleum companies and the state took over duties promoting Mount Rainier as a tourist destination.