Olympic National Park History
The wonder of the Olympic Peninsula is how the beaches you comb and forest trails you walk have remained virtually untouched over the millennia. From the prehistoric mastodon-hunters to native fisher-people to European homesteaders searching for gold and timber riches, only the most resourceful people have been able to call these wild lands home. It is no coincidence that the Olympic was the last area to be explored in the contiguous United States. And just when it appeared that the secret was out, the Olympic was declared a national park thus preserving its natural majesty. This feeling of timeless beauty, this power of land and sea, makes Kalaloch truly one-of-a-kind.
The discovery of a 12,000-year old spear tip in a mastodon rib opened the door to archeologists who determined the first known residents of the Olympic Peninsula were hunters of big game. In the millennia to follow, inhabitants began to gather food and other resources from a more varied palette. The heavy forest provided timber for longhouses, canoes for hunting whales, and coastal tribes harvested salmon and shellfish. In the mid-1800's, the first wave of westward expansion by Euro-Americans came to the Olympic Peninsula. Free land was offered to those determined enough to clear it, yet the rugged terrain kept their numbers in check.
In 1889, the Press Party, an expedition led by Lt. Joseph P. O'Neil and funded by the Seattle Press, barely survived one of the worst winters in Washington history as it explored the rugged interior of the Olympic Mountains. O'Neil was so awestruck by the landscape that he publicly advocated the formation of a national park.
By the turn of the 20th century, these untapped resources and natural beauty started to draw wider attention. With concern mounting that the forests were being irresponsibly harvested, President Grover Cleveland designated the Olympic Forest Reserve in 1897. This protected trees, but not the elk that were being hunted to extinction for their valuable hides and incisor teeth, which were being used in watch fobs. In 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt designated part of the Reserve as Mount Olympic National Monument to preserve the elk. Like all regulation, there was blowback and the monument acreage was cut in half within a decade, leaving much of the forest available for harvest.
Due in part to campaigning by a national conservation organization, President Franklin Roosevelt visited the Olympic National Monument and in 1938 signed an act establishing it as Olympic National Park. International recognition came in 1981 when UNESCO designated the park as a World Heritage Site.
Kalaloch Lodge has its own history. Not originally included within the boundaries of Olympic National Monument, a 40-acre coastal plot just south of where Kalaloch Creek meets the Pacific Ocean was purchased in 1925 by Charles W. Becker, Sr. Resourceful like all residents of the area, he used milled lumber that washed up on the beach to build the main lodge and cabins. The property became known as Becker's Inn and Resort Cabins, though road travel to this remote spot was difficult.
In 1931, the massive Olympic Loop Highway road project was completed enabling Becker to expand his resort to accommodate the new wave of travelers. After being used as a Coast Guard encampment during WWII and the years just after the war, Becker's Ocean Resort (as it had become to be known) returned to recreational use. It was 1953 when a strip of wild coast (including the resort) was added to Olympic National Park by President Harry S. Truman.
The National Park Service purchased the Becker property in 1978 and renamed it Kalaloch Lodge.
And its renown continues to grow even today. Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts acquired the National Parks Service Concession contract for Kalaloch Lodge in September 2012 to extend the property’s legacy of providing exceptional Olympic National Park hospitality to generations of Pacific Northwest travelers.