With all my travels to national parks over the years, you'd think that I would have added Christine Barnes' wonderful book, Great Lodges of the National Parks, to my library a long, long time ago. In truth, I didn't come to it until recently, and I'm glad I finally made the purchase.
Written by Barnes in 2002 as a "companion book" to the PBS Television show of the same name, the book not only provides great photographs of 17 national park lodges, but Barnes adds some great insights through the narrative that binds the 191-page book together.
Barnes, a senior consultant and historian for the PBS series, brought a keen eye to the book. Throughout the chapters she not only brings the obvious to the reader in terms of describing the lodges, but she adds a historian's perspective. In addressing the Paradise Inn in Mount Rainier National Park, for example, she describes the excitement that welcomed the inn's opening in the summer of 1917.
"The inn opened on schedule -- July 1, 1917 -- having cost $100,000, and tourists were lining up to stay the night. Snow-clogged roads didn't stop guests, who boarded sleighs or horses to make their way to the valley. Others buckled on snowshoes, and waterproof boots were made available for men and women who wanted to hike in," writes Barnes. "Their reward was much the same experience that aways guests today: a chance to lounge in the 50-by-112-foot great hall in front of one of two massive fireplaces, take their meals in the equally impressive dining room, then adjourn to simple sleeping quarters."
In putting the book together, Barnes notes that she tried to not only recount each lodge's history, but also include the voices of "authors, architects, historians, park rangers, and former employees whose lives have all been impacted by the lodges and parks they call home. Their words, from childhood memories to architectural analysis, enlighten readers as to why these buildings are so revered and also convey why thousands of people work tirelessly to preserve them."
Richly complementing Barnes' text are the photographs taken by Fred Pflughoft and David Morris. In case you're wondering, the cover photo, of the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park, was taken by Fred.