The Evergreen Playground

Path to a Park


Since 1897, millions of acres of the Olympic Peninsula's forested land have been bounced back and forth between those who would log the timber and those who would preserve it. The establishment of Olympic National Park came to prominence in 1934 when the Emergency Conservation Committee of New York published a pamphlet warning that the elk and primeval forests of the Olympic Peninsula were in danger of being lost forever. The controversies surrounding the size, uses, and public access to the proposed park were passionately debated. Federal and private interests each published their views, expressing their respective rights to manage the land.

"The completion, several years ago, of a motor highway entirely around the Olympic Peninsula, Washington, often called our 'last frontier,' which contains one of the largest unsettled areas left in the United states excluding Alaska, and the present employment of federal emergency funds for constructing new roads that traverse formerly wild parts of the Peninsula, has brought about a crisis in the history of the region, and makes it imperative to act promptly if we are to save any considerable part of its magnificent forests from annihilation and its wild life from extinction."

- The Proposed Olympic National Park: An Opportunity of which We Must Take Advantage Now or Never, 1934 (Pamphlet)

"Must there be needless economic loss? Locked up in the Olympic National Park are large surplus areas of what is primarily forest growing land with little or no recreational value. If the surplus areas of productive land were to be transferred from the National Park Service to the custody of the Forest Service, then the productive capacity of the land could be made effective in harmony with the perpetual forest management policy of this agency of the U.S. Government."

- Keep Out! Investigate Please (Booklet)

When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited the Olympic Peninsula in September of 1937, he made it clear he wanted a large park. In response to a banner at the Clallam County Courthouse that read "Please, Mr. President, we children need your help. Give us our Olympic national park," Roosevelt stated:

"That sign.is the 'appealingist' appeal that I have seen in all my travels. I am inclined to think it counts more to have the children want that park than all the rest of us put together. So, you boys and girls, I think you can count on my help in getting that national park, not only because we need it for us old people.but for a whole lot of young people who are going to come along in the next hundred years of America."

- Reported in the Port Angeles Evening News, October 1, 1937

In 1938, Congress passed the bill establishing the Olympic National Park. President Roosevelt signed it on June 29, followed by the formal dedication of the park on June 15, 1946.

"It was the North Olympic Peninsula people who, after years of dedicated effort, staggering obstacles and reverses, and compromising their future economic benefits, should be given the most credit for the establishment of Olympic National Park."

- Chris Morgenroth, Forest Service pioneer


© University of Washington. All rights reserved.
The Community Museum is a project of community organizations and Tribes across the Olympic Peninsula and the University of Washington.
Support for the project comes from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Preston, Gates and Ellis, LLP.