Teddy Roosevelt once claimed the best idea America ever had was its national parks. After flipping the cover open on Great Lodges of the National Parks, by Christine Barnes, readers should have an easy time understanding why he said that.
The book is an eye-grabber, thanks in part to the work of Washington State University alumna Linda McCray (’81 B.A. Fine Arts), who designed and illustrated it, and to the photographs of Fred Pflughoft and another WSU alum, David Morris (’93 B.A. Pol. Sci.). McCray makes room in her design for double-page photo spreads that showcase the natural beauty of 11 Western national parks and the 16 grand lodges located in them. The scenery captured in these photos makes it easy to ignore the stories behind them and just plan a vacation.
But the book, a companion to the PBS television series, Great Lodges of the West, also gives an illustrated history of the parks, as well as the conception, building, and architecture of each lodge inside and out—from Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone to Paradise Inn at Mount Rainier National Park.
Barnes describes how businessmen, railroad crews, masons, carpenters, and landscape designers all worked together to create these national treasures in isolated locations and under the hardship of the elements.
Personal accounts of the architects, historians, park rangers, and former employees who helped build and maintain the lodges and parks give insight as to why these buildings are so revered and why so many people work to preserve them.
“They are magnificent,” said Suzanne Lewis, a Glacier National Park superintendent who was interviewed in the book. “Today we would not build lodges like that, especially in those locations. That makes them even more important as historic experiences and structures.”