P. B. Van Trump
Yelm, W.T. Jan. 23rd, 89.
Friend and whilom fellow-climber:
Your most cordially welcome, genial and eloquent letter came to hand a few days since. I was “right down” glad to hear from you, and hope you will favor me more than this once in the way of correspondence. I was sincerely glad, too, to hear something about our companion du voyage cap a mountain, Keith, who, it appears from your letter, has labored arduously with brush and canvas to give further fame to our grand old Rainier.
By the paper I shall mail along with this you will see that I took the liberty of letting the Tacoma Ledger publish your interesting letter, or a part of it. The compositor has made an error or [illegible] and the Editor has taken, unauthorized, the liberty of substituting Mt. Tacoma for Mt. Rainier. You will have to be patient and [enduring?] with him. He has served me the same way in previous publications. It would be a moral impossibility for a bona fide Tacomaite to let the name Rainier pass through his lips or drop from his pen. The corporate limits of the Hub of the Universe are suffused, of course, to enclose the environs of that giant
mountain. The gallant and distinguished Vancouver was obtusely blind to the great future (of the terminus) where, in honor of his illustrious English friend, he applied that culpable name to the “noblest Roman” of all our [illegible]. The Tacomaites call the mountain Tacima, thier [terminus?] Tacoma, thier bay Tacoma, and now with the veriest greed of selfish nomenclature they are clamoring to have the [illegible] of Congress admit the Territory under the name of Tacoma. I verily believe that when good Tacomaites die and go to heaven if they don’t find the most beatified portion of Paradise called Tacoma, or at least its principal golden thoroughfare, they will despondently hang their heads, turn
on their heels and indignantly retrace their steps, if that be possible to mortals after once passing the celestial threshold. Can not you as an established writer and an acknowledged authority on the subject of mountains, lift your pen in influential protest against this outrage on history and geography, and dispresect to the rights and memory of the brave and distinguished Vancouver? I believe it was Winthrop who stated the idea of calling the mountain Tacoma. When the "City of Destiny" was yet in the swadling clothes [illegible] of a village its designers "caught on" to Winthrop's innovation, and, reinforced by the N.P.R.R. Co. with its cops of advertisers and writers, have persistently endeavored to fix the name of Tacoma upon the mountain Has an original and time-honored discoverer no rights that a modern
(Tacoma) name-destroyer is bound to respect? The Tacomaite argues that Tacoma is the original Indian name of the mt., and that it is more euphonious. Can they show that the Indians had a name for the mountain (distincitve) before Vancouver beheld it from the Pacific, or in its greater glory from the nearer waters of the [illegible] Sound? Granting the force of the Indian argument, the name Tacoma as pronounced by the inhabitants of the "City of Destiny" does not resemble with proper exactitude the name of the mountain as it is uttered in the peculiar guttural intonation of the aborigines. The book to my boy Hal and the one to little Miss Kernahan came safely to hand. I will send Miss Ruth's to her at the earliest opportunity. My boy returns. Thanks.
I would have answered your letter sooner but for a sad accident to him. On a hunting expedition while he was puting a 40-60 cartridge into his rifle, it exploded, burning his face and filling his eyes with powder. I went to Tacoma and put him under a doctor's care. He is improving rapidly now and recovering his sight. My wife and little daughter Christine wish to be remembered to you, and all three join me in reciprocating your good wishes for a happy New Year. I never got any pictures (promised by him) from Warner. Prof. Davidson (of Cal.) and others wrote me to know if they could get any of the Rainier photographs. I wrote Warner telling him of the demand, but never got any answer. With ever pleasing memories of our association in mountain climbing (plasters (non-porous) and [traclyte?] flapjacks not forgotten) I am, with kindest regards,
P. B. Van Trump.
Yelm, W[ashington] T[erritory]
1889 Jan 23
Original letter dimensions: 22.5 x 14 cm.
Van Trump, P. B., "Letter from P. B. Van Trump to John Muir, 1889 Jan 23." (1889). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 1808.
Reel 06, Image 0027
Copyright status unknown
Some letters written to John Muir may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library. Please contact this institution directly to obtain copies of the images or permission to publish or use them beyond educational purposes.
Environmentalist, naturalist, travel, conservation, national parks, John Muir, Yosemite, California, history, correspondence, letters