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(Seattle & Northern 1890)

Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
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Covers from British Columbia to Puget sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan. An evolving history dedicated to the principle of committing random acts of historical kindness
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Cyrus Mosier's role in preserving
Mount Rainier

(Cyrus A. Mosier)
Cyrus A. Mosier, circa 1890

      Ed. note: This is a sidebar to our profile of Cyrus A. Mosier. Cy was the long-time court reporter for the first and second district courts in Des Moines, Iowa. After retiring, he accepted a patronage appointment in 1889 from President Harrison to be the federal administrator of public lands in the West. That was an opportunity for Cy and his wife, Rachel, to move out to Washington territory to live near their son, Albert G. Mosier, a real estate engineer for Seattle Lake Shore & Eastern railroad. As part of Albert's work in developing depot sites for the line, he helped boom the town we now call new Sedro. Cy was also an avid hunter, fisherman and outdoorsman and he and his wife, Rachel, homesteaded a parcel near the Skykomish river in Snohomish county in 1889, next to similar homesteads claimed by their son Albert and their son-in-law Harry L. Devin. Devin married their daughter Lenore in 1885 and he enjoyed hunting as much as Cy did.
      Albert and Harry became two of the most important pioneers in old Sedro by the Skagit river. And Cy helped preserve the forests of Washington state a decade before his fellow Republican Teddy Roosevelt gained fame as a conservationist. Cy was appointed to the lands post in 1889 by Republican President Benjamin Harrison, but he was replaced by a Democrat when Grover Cleveland won back the presidency in 1892 He was re-appointed in 1897 after Republican William McKinley was elected, but retired in 1899-1900 due to ill health. We are indebted to the fine website that Robin Mosier assembled about Mosiers throughout the United States for this information about Mosier's explorations of Mount Rainier during the period of 1889-92.

From the website:
(Cyrus A. Mosier)
This photo was taken by Lyn Topinka on Oct. 1, 1987, and is featured on the fine USGS website about volcanoes and Mount Rainier. It is of the southern slopes of Mount Rainier as viewed from Paradise. Nisqually Glacier is in the foreground and Gilbraltar Rock is on the right. Columbia Crest at 14,410 feet tops the view.

      Subsequently he [Cyrus A. Mosier] received orders from Hon. T. H. Carter, then Commissioner of the General Land Office and now Senator from Montana, to explore the Mount Rainier region for the purpose of obtaining the necessary information in regard to the propriety of making a timber reservation there. The idea of making this reservation was originated by Mr. Mosier. A "national park" had been previously suggested by other parties; but before Congress could carry out any plan for a park here the region would have been denuded of its timber and beauty by organized bands of timber and land thieves. Mr. Mosier spent two years exploring this section of Washington and obtaining the opinions of citizens of the Sound cities as to the feasibility of making a reservation which should range entirely around the mountain and constitute an evergreen frame, as it were, for this awfully grand snow-capped peak.
      Loading a mule with a dog tent, blankets, bacon, flour, coffee, and a few other necessaries, a 5x7 Kodak, an aneroid barometer, thermometer, field-glass, level, forty-four six-shooter, repeating rifle, etc., he walked behind the faithful little animal from the settlements at sea-level to the timber line on the mountain, which was generally about 8,ooo feet above the sea, and camped alone at night, proceeding to points fifty to a hundred miles from civilization. In the daytime he had to cross swollen glacial rivers alone, which are always dangerous even when help is at hand. But he could not retreat; all his work lay before and above him. When the shades of night draped the earth with their mysterious pall and the stars shone out like electric lamps from the black depth of space, the ominous silence being broken only by an occasional scream of the mountain lion and the mysterious notes of night birds and other animals, also the sound of grinding rocks forced by an avalanche sweeping the timber and everything before it down the mountain side, reverential awe which language cannot express, rather than fear, took possession of Mr. Mosier's mind.
      He made numerous trips of this kind, starting from different sides of the mountain, the last being from North Yakima, on the eastern side of the Cascades, during which time he camped in deep snow for three days, his horse pawing down through the snow to the earth to obtain his provender, which consisted of the nutritious grasses buried so deeply.
      To the ordinary observer it would seem that such extreme out-door life would have been impossible, following immediately a period of more than twenty years devoted to court work, where close confinement and steady application were so absolutely necessary to the discharge of duty. The secret lies in the fact that Mr. Mosier had all his life been an enthusiastic sportsman, going annually hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles to enjoy the pleasures of the chase, hunting and fishing and the romance of camp life. To shoot antelope on the plains of Texas and Mexico, to climb the Rockies in quest of mountain sheep, goats, bears and black-tail deer, or to shoot water-fowl and grouse about the lakes and fields of the Dakotas, afforded him the necessary exercise for health as well as opportunity to indulge his passion for the study of nature. It was this that especially prepared and fitted him for the hardships and daring exploration we have mentioned in connection with the topographical survey of the Mount Rainier region, now Pacific Reserve.
      In his explorations Mr. Mosier gathered specimens of all the herbaceous plants, mosses, shrubs and trees that he saw, from the salt marshes at sea level to the glaciers between 10,000 and 12,000 feet above. These specimens he forwarded to the Forestry and Botanical Divisions of the Agricultural Department at Washington. The fauna and flora of this region are worthy the attention of the whole scientific world. He photographed natural scenery, trees and other plants, cascades, rocks, avalanches and glaciers, plains a mountains, and even the ocean.

Mosier's final report about Mt. Rainier in 1892
      Ed. note: The website also includes the conclusion to Mosier's final report that Mosier wrote about Mount Rainier for President Harrison. Mosier , recommended that the Interior Department create a reservation of about 1,6oo square miles, or a million acres of land on and around Mount Rainier. He attached as exhibits more than 100 copies of his photographs. And he insisted that the Federal government should have never parted with any of the vast tracts of the mountain's timberlands, the revenue from which would have paid the total operating expenses of the Government, tariff or no tariff — one of the burning issues of the day.
      This grand mountain region, with its icebound peaks, its smoldering volcanoes, it's craters, its crags, its mimic battlements and towers, its precipices, its deep chasms, its steeps, its lakes, its brooks and rivulets an rills, its waterfalls, its fleecy snows, its crinkled drifts, its crevasses and net-work of deep, fissures and chasms and gorges, its columns of basaltic rock, its moraines, its piles of many angled rocks, its record of the fiery work of volcanic forces, its heaps of scoriae, its volcanic ash-beds, at times garlanded with the choicest plants and flowers, its blooming shrubs, its fragrant wild roses, its nameless mosses, its tall cedars and hemlocks and firs and pines, its' yews and spruces and arbor-vitaes, its smooth barked alder trees, its fallen monarchs, its strings of wild vines, its bowers, its brakes and graceful ferns, its sedges and rushes, its mallows and orchids, its tangled wild-woods, its shrubs with blazing flower and fruit, its sub-alpine trees, its enchanting parks, its colonnades of balsam firs and pines and larches, its grassy lawns, its undulating tables, its clumps of exquisitely beautiful trees, its nooks and meadows, its wooded hills with their green slopes and flecks and patches of mid-summer snows of purest white, its dizzy heights and fearful depths, its bursting avalanches and roaring cataracts, its milk-white glacial rivers, grinding boulders, falling rocks with their reverberating echoes, moaning winds, screaming panthers, soaring eagles, wild goats, deer, bear, beaver, marmot and hare, its partridge and grouse and quail and ptarmigan, wild ducks and geese and heron, its song-birds, its bees and myriad insect life, its fishes, its murmuring waters, its mineral springs, its clear blue skies, its starry depths, its clouds, its zigzag lightnings and loud-rolling thunder, its calms, its storms and tempests, its sunshine and shade, its sunrise over mountains of purple and gold and silver sheen, its glorious sunsets, its weird, creeping shadows, its hallowed gloom, its peaceful solitude, its many voices of nature, exciting reverential awe, its peaceful solitude, its many voices of nature, exciting reverential awe, its peaceful solitude- all these and much more that language cannot express, impel me to again urge that this reservation be made for the benefit of the people of the State of Washington, of the United States and of the whole civilized world."
      As a result, Harrison included Mount Rainier in the newly created Pacific Reserve. That was part of the General Land Law Revision Act, passed by Congress in 1891, which contained a provision allowing Harrison to withdraw forest reserves from the unreserved public domain. More than 13 million acres were designated forest reserves in the West, including 2,250,000 acres for Washington's Pacific Forest Reserve, created in 1893. The purpose of the legislation was to close the reserves from wanton settlement and development, a grand plan that we now know ultimately failed. You can read many more details about forests from that period at this website. Robin Mosier's website quotes a rare book: A Memorial And Biographical Record Of Iowa, Illustrated. Chicago, The Lewis Publishing Company 1896. Pages 1030-1036. Ms. Mosier provides a tremendous resource for anyone tracking genealogy of their Mosier/Mosher/Moser families. Those readers who want to learn more about Mount Rainier are directed to our website about Thomas Cox Ewing: That is a profile of William Cox Ewing, who founded the Skagit News in Mount Vernon in 1884 mdash; in which the careful reader will also learn about U.S. politics and government in the 19th century; the Ewing family's influence on Abraham Lincoln, the defense of Dr. Samuel Mudd and President Andrew Johnson; Washington territory and the first successful ascent of Mount Rainier. Shared from the archives of our separate Subscribers Edition online. If you return to the contents page for Issue 20, you will find links to websites about Albert G. Mosier, Harry Devin and mining in the North Cascades.

Mosier and Devin stories on the web
Shared from Issue 20 of the optional Subscribers Edition.

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