The Tacoma Branch has been an active part of The Mountaineers from the beginning. Learn about our history, the Irish Cabin Property, and our The Tacoma program center in the History section below. You can also attend one of our branch meetings, meet our Tacoma Branch Council, and learn how to get involved in our Youth Programs.
Looking for more information about upcoming Tacoma Branch events or activities? The best way to do that is to check out the Tacoma Branch Calendar where you will find the most up-to-date information on all Tacoma Branch activities. Be sure to also read the Tacoma Blog and your emails from The Mountaineers - we will do our best to keep them brief with links to more detailed information on specific events or activities that pique your interest. The Irish Cabin Property Calendar has information on what is going on at the property (cabin long gone) and the Tacoma Program Center Calendar is where you can check room availability for scheduling committee meetings and activities or a private rental event. There is always lots going on so check it all out and "Get Out There" with us!
HISTORY OF Tacoma Branch
Tacoma Mountaineers have been an active part of The Mountaineers from the beginning. Charles Landes, a professor at Tacoma High School and his brother Henry Landes, the club's first president, led the first Local Walk in on the Tacoma area, on March 16, 1907. That excursion, from American Lake to Steilacoom, was The Mountaineers' third-ever outing. Late in 1910, the member roster showed 10 Tacoma Residents out of 375 Mountaineer members.
Tacoma's "Auxiliary to the Mountaineers" was formed in March 1912 primarily due to the efforts of A. H. Denman, an attorney with a love for photography and the mountains. He was assisted by John B. Flett, a botany professor, and J. Harry Weer, a wholesale grocery executive. Weer presided as president for seven years and was the first Summer Outing chairman from Tacoma. Tacoma Branch leaders organized and let many summer outings in the Northwest during the early decades of the Mountaineers.
Before 1912 ended, the Tacoma branch staged a five-day winter outing at Longmire, which became an annual event. The outing was moved to Paradise in 1917, and the attendance figures for 1923 show 160 participants. Although these multi-day-treks had to end a decade or so later for insurance reasons, they were perhaps the first organized efforts to get area residents into the mountains in the winter and effectively pioneered the way for the snowshoeing, skiing and winter mountaineering that would soon follow.
For more than 50 years, the Tacoma branch had its own retreat at Irish Cabin, located near the main channel of the Carbon River along the road to the Carbon River entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. The cabin was built sometime before the turn of the century by a man known only as Mr. Irish, who worked a nearby copper mine. It was deserted for about two decades, approachable only by trail up the north side of the Carbon River until 1923, when a corduroy road was built up to access Olson's Cabin on Cataract Creek A tangle of brush obscured the Irish Cabin from travelers who dared to drive their Model Ts up the rutted, muddy road until April 1926, when a group of Tacoma Mountaineers, led by Leo Gallagher, was passing by and decided to investigate the old cabin. They found a fairly large building constructed almost entirely of split cedar, including the floor. Gallagher, A little repair work transformed the cabin into a Mountaineers home.
During the depression the branch bought the cabin and 18 acres surrounding it for $300. However, the area's virgin forest were logged not long afterward, destroying much of the charm and beauty of the site. A rehabilitation program began in the late 1940's when a new foundation and beautiful river-stone fireplace were built and the kitchen was remodeled to handle crowds for festive dinners, group gatherings and lively weekend outings. Soon there was nothing left of the original "cabin" but the main floor and walls. Bunks in the cabin were bought and paid for by individual members, with the names of the owners stenciled on them. Eventually there were sleeping quarters for 60 overnighters.
The road to Mowich made the 24 "Irish Cabin" peaks more easily accessible in the 1950's, making the Cabin Peaks Climbs popular day trips. The historic use of Irish as a base camp was over but fond memories of wonderful outings motivated the Tacoma Branch to maintain the "cabin" for many years. It was a destination for climbing course field trips, a very active youth group, and the annual Thanksgiving Dinner. The job of keeping the cabin habitable, free of squatters and vandalizing became an expensive consideration, and eventually in 1978 the Tacoma branch dismantled the building and it was taken down. The "unimproved" property is still used for car camping and by several courses for field trips.
Tacoma and Seattle are the only two branches to have a Program Center, and Tacoma's "clubhouse" is located at 2302 North 30th Street - appropriately in historic "Old Town" near the Ruston Way Waterfront Park on Commencement Bay. Leo Gallagher donated the site and engaged the architect Silas Nelson of Tacoma to design a functional, one-story home for the branch. Volunteers worked for more than a year before the building was ready for the first meeting in March 1956. Finishing work continued for several years until the building was cozy. Members came to meetings dressed in their climbing clothes to stay warm in the early years when the program center was without central heating.
At present the clubhouse is newly remolded to include heat and serves as a very inviting, well-appointed place for the diversity of activities and programs the branch offers Mountaineer members throughout the year. When The Mountaineers are not using the facility, the program center is rented and is a popular venue for weddings, receptions, seminars, memorials and social affairs.
Tacoma "new member meetings" are a great way to meet some of the club members, see a presentation of the various activities, and get your questions answered. They are held most months on the third Friday at 7:00pm at the Tacoma Program Center.
The Tacoma Branch Council meeting is held every last Monday of the month at 7:00pm in the Boardroom at the Tacoma Program Center.
The Tacoma Branch Council is responsible for making sure everything happens at your branch. Get to know your council members by clicking to their profile pages.
Current Board Members
Scott Davidson, Tacoma Branch Chair, Member Since: 2008
Rick Yasger, Secretary, Member Since: 2008
Liz Zimmerman, Treasurer, Member Since: 2008
Jim Paxinos, Chair Elect, Member Since: 2011
Anne Corley, Councilmember, Member Since: 2010
Mike Courts, Councilmember, Member Since: 2011
Raphi Giangiulio, Councilmember, Member Since: 2011
Jim Feltus, Mountaineers Board of Directors, Tacoma Representative, Tacoma Councilmember, Member Since: 1996
Richard Levenson, Councilmember, Member Since: 2012
Troy Mason, Councilmember, Member Since: 2007
Past Branch Chairs
Geoff Lawrence, Tacoma Branch Chair 2010-2013, Member Since: 2005
Darin Brekke, Tacoma Branch Chair 2008-2010, Member Since: 1999
This is our program for youth ages 10 – 14 who are interested in spending time outdoors. No experience of skills needed to join; we will teach all the skills they will need to participate in an activity. The group will meet for skills when necessary at the Tacoma Mountaineers Program Center and go on 1-2 outings a month. Parents/guardians are encouraged to attend trips with your child!
The Tacoma branch will be starting to host Mountain Workshops in which The Mountaineers teams up with our community's youth-serving organizations - YMCAs, Girl Scouts, youth homeless shelters and local schools to name a few - to provide activities designed to build confidence, responsibility, trust and passion for the outdoors while having a whole bunch of fun! A flexible, hands-on curriculum that teaches safety and appreciation for the environment, Mountain Workshops impart skills applicable to almost anything youth do for the rest of their lives.
Youth of ages 6-12 are invited to join us for an outdoor sampler--a fun-filled week packed with traditional summer camp games and songs and a heavy dose of outdoor adventure. Led by knowledgeable and skilled volunteers, youth learn basic climbing, navigation, hiking and safety skills, kayaking and earth stewardship. Each week includes a different field trip, based on the activity theme for the week.
- *upcoming* Events
- April 27, 2015 Tacoma Branch Council Meeting - Boardroom Tacoma Program Center
- April 28, 2015 Ghost Bears of the North Cascades Tacoma Program Center
- April 29, 2015 Scrambles Lecture 3 - Great Hall Tacoma Program Center
- April 30, 2015 Intermediate Climbing - Classroom & Climbing Walls Tacoma Program Center
- May 01, 2015 Safety, Tracks & Bird Alarms in Cougar, Wolf & Bear Country Tacoma Program Center
- May 02, 2015 Scrambles Rock 2 FT Little Si