Yelm Historical Museum
The Yelm Historical Museum is filled with history with close ties to Mount Rainier National Park due to Yelm’s historical gateway to the mountain before modern roads made accessing the park much easier. James Longmire, one of the founders of Yelm had blazed a trail to the base of the mountain, guided the first climbers here and later established a lodge at Mt. Rainier National Park that now bears his name. This museum is a must-see for Mt. Rainier and mountain climbing fans alike, with free admission thanks to the City of Yelm and the Yelm Historical Society.
The first known man to climb to the summit of Mt. Rainier, P.B. Van Trump, and the first woman, Fay Fuller, were both associated with Yelm and are the stars of the “The Bloomer Girl and the Mountain” exhibit at the museum.
Van Trump had made his famous climb in 1870 along with Hazard Stevens, sone of the first governor of Washington Territory. Later Van Trump led the famous naturalist John Muir to the top. Faye Fuller was a young school teacher in Yelm and a friend of the Van Trumps, who had a business there. In 1887, at 17 years old, Fay had been invited to climb the mountain with others if she would agree to turn back at a certain level. She did so reluctantly, but the experience made her resolve that sometime she “would go as high as possible but hardly daring to hope what that might mean.” The chance came three years later when she was on a summer outing with the Van Trumps in the Paradise meadows area on the side of Mount Rainier.
When offered assistance at a particular difficult place, she responded, “No thank you, I want to get up there on my own power or not at all.” The group reached the top too late to make a daylight return and they found the steam vents and ice caves in the crater a protected but uncomfortable place to spend a night. They returned to Paradise the next day and stayed another day or so to recover from the sunburns and minor injuries that they acquired in the climb. As soon as the news of her achievement as the first woman to climb Rainier reached Tacoma where Fay’s father was a newspaper editor, her life took on new dimensions.
Learn more about Fay’s famous trip at the new Yelm Historical Museum off State Highway 507 or 510 in Yelm, WA.
- Interpretive Signage
- Guided Tours Available