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Philemon Van Trump

1839-1916 Philemon Van Trump - Photo owned by Special Collections University of Washington Libraries
  • Van Trump was the pioneering mountain climber on Mount Rainier in Washington State and wrote extensively about its history and beauty. He made at least 5 climbs to the summit between 1870 and 1892 including the first successful ascent in 1870. Van Trump worked with Muir to support and expand new forest reserves in 1896-7.
  • Van Trump guided Muir to the summit in 1888 as well as his California climbing companion, George Bayley in 1883 and 1892. Van Trump "climbed side by side" with Muir to the top "listening to his interesting talk." It was on this climb in 1888, that Muir discovered the sheltered camp site high on the mountain now named in his honor as, "Camp Muir." Van Trump was also one of the first Sierra Club members outside California, joining in 1893. After their climb in 1888, Muir and Van Trump kept in touch by mail and through brief visits when Muir traveled to the Pacific Northwest. Van Trump was one of the first to advocate protecting Mount Rainier as a national park in 1891 and later served on a Sierra Club committee with Muir in 1893 that led a national campaign to gain national park status for Mt. Rainier. Van Trump's account of his 1892 climb of "Mount Tahoma" was published in the Sierra Club Bulletin in May 1894.
  • Van Trump supported Muir's efforts to keep sheep out of the northwest forest reserves and Mount Rainier National Park after it was established in 1899. Another early climber wrote: "Van Trump has done more than all others combined to interest his countrymen in the mountain."
  • The most complete description of Van Trump's climbing and conservation activities as well as references to his many articles about Mt. Rainier can be found in Aubrey L. Haines, Mountain Fever: Historic Conquests of Rainier, (Portland: Oregon Historical Society, 1962).
  • Muir's account of his climb with Van Trump in 1888 can be found in "An Ascent of Mount Rainier," Steep Trails, (Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1918).

Photo of Philemon van Trump courtesy of Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries.

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