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En Route to Rainier
Spanaway's Historic Link to Mt. Rainier National Park


In 1890 the Lake Park Land, Railway and Improvement Company bought up land claims east of Spanaway Lake and platted the town of Lake Park on the east side of the lake. The company ran its rail line past the lake to its terminal depot at 2nd and Pacific Street (now 162nd and Park Avenue). Rail access made Lake Park a booming resort area.
An 1890's view of Mt. Tahoma (Rainier)
from the west side of Spanueh Lake, as it was called by the Canadian Hudson Bay Company. Spanueh, or Spa'du-we, is a native Lushootseed word meaning prairie where roots are dug.
The Company called the area to the east and south of the lake "Spanueh Station," where HBC employee John Montgomery raised the company's cattle, sheep, and grain. In 1850 the U.S. government opened Washington Territory to settlers. Those who took donation claims around Spanaway Lake, including John Montgomery, were considered squatters by the Hudson Bay Company, which tried to evict them. The claims held.
When Mt. Rainier National Park was created in 1899, tourists en route to Rainier caught the train to the end of its line - Spanaway. There, each morning at 9 a.m. sharp, they picked up a motorcade in front of the depot to continue their trip to Mt. Rainier. The journey took another two days.
Linger a spell in historic Spanaway
Click here for fun things to do and places to dine
on your way to Mt. Rainier.

1925 photo of Mt. Rainier

The Puyallup-Nisqually Indians had called the mountain looming over the region "Tu'qobu" spelled in English as "Tacoma". Ta'qobu was a name used for any large mountain with perpetual snow. Another native name for Mount Rainier was [xwaqw]. [xw] was pronounced like [wh] and the [qw] like in quick. xwaqw means "sky wiper" or that the mountain "wipes the sky." But in 1792, Captain George Vancouver sailed into the sound and named the local imposing peak after his friend Rear Admiral Peter Rainier. Settlers liked "Tacoma" better and the mountain's two names were used interchangeably until the United States Board On Geographic Names declared Mount Rainier the official title in 1890. Attempts to return to the mountain its historical name of Tahoma or Tacoma have cropped up periodically ever since.

For information about Mt. Rainier, see
National Park Service/Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier Images and History

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