Camp Long Records, 1932-2014

Overview of the Collection

Seattle (Wash.). Dept. of Parks and Recreation
Camp Long Records
1932-2014 (inclusive)
1 cubic feet, (3 boxes)
Collection Number
Operational and program records from Camp Long in West Seattle.
Seattle Municipal Archives
Seattle Municipal Archives
Office of the City Clerk
City of Seattle
PO Box 94728
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 2062337807
Fax: 2063869025
Access Restrictions

Records are open to the public.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

The Department of Parks and Recreation administers Seattles parks system and community recreation programs. It maintains over 6000 acres of city parks, 20 miles of shoreline, and 22 miles of boulevards. The department operates the citys 25 community recreation centers, the Woodland Park Zoo, the Seattle Aquarium, nine swimming pools, a tennis center, and more than 400 smaller facilities. In addition, it is custodian for four public golf courses, three moorages, and several other athletic and cultural facilities.

In 1884 David Denny donated a five-acre tract that was the site of a cemetery to the City of Seattle, stipulating that it be designated a public park. The site, initially named Seattle Park and later renamed Denny Park, was the first ordinance-designated public park in Seattle. The ordinance that accepted the property (Ordinance 571) also made allowances for its conversion from a cemetery to a park and included a provision that three Park Commissioners be appointed to oversee the conversion. At that time, the City of Seattle was operating under its 1869 charter which provided for a relatively small government of 13 elected officials and three other officers, in whom all municipal authority was vested.

Legislation in 1887 (Ordinance 874) created the Board of Park Commissioners, consisting of three members to be appointed by Council, and who served three-year terms. This unpaid body was charged with all management responsibilities for Seattle's parks and was expected to report to Council as often as each quarter, making recommendations for improvements and for the acquisition of new properties.

In 1890 the City of Seattle adopted its first home-rule charter. The citys population had expanded from 3533 in 1880 to nearly 43,000. The new charter mandated a dramatically larger city government composed of 34 elected officials, 13 departments, and six regulatory commissions, including a Board of Park Commissioners. A park fund was also established, consisting of: proceeds from the sale of bonds issued for that purpose; gifts; appropriations made by Council; and 10% of the gross receipts from all fines, penalties, and licenses. The new Board of Park Commissioners, appointed by the Mayor, consisted of five paid ($300 per year) members who served five-year terms. Although the Board had all management responsibilities for Seattle's parks, including the authority to appoint a superintendent and to negotiate for property, Council retained the authority to purchase property.

In 1892 the Board appointed E. O. Schwagerl, a noted landscape architect and engineer, to be the second Superintendent of Parks. During the four years that he held the office, Schwagerl developed the first comprehensive plan for Seattle's parks. This plan may have guided Assistant City Engineer George F. Cotterill. Cotterill organized volunteers to construct 25 miles of bicycle paths, the routes of which were utilized by the Olmsted Brothers in their 1903 city-wide plan for a system of parks and boulevards.

In 1896 Seattle adopted a new home-rule charter. This charter redefined the Board of Park Commissioners as the Park Committee: five unpaid appointees who reported annually to Council. In addition, all management responsibilities of the parks, including the authority to obtain new properties, were vested with the City Council. The Superintendent of Parks position was eliminated and its responsibilities were assumed by the new Superintendent of Streets, Sewers, and Parks, one of the three members of the Board of Public Works.

In 1903, City Council adopted the Olmsted Brothers plan to expand and develop a system of parks and boulevards. At the same time, the Charter was amended, re-establishing the Board of Park Commissioners and giving it the kind of independence that park commissions in the metropolitan cities of the East enjoyed. While Council retained the authority to approve the purchase of property, the Board assumed all management responsibilities of the parks, as well as the exclusive authority to spend park fund monies. In addition, all park-related authority was removed from the Board of Public Works, and the Board of Park Commissioners elected to appoint a superintendent. Public support, both for the implementation of the Olmsted plan as well as for the new, empowered Board, was substantial. In 1905 a $500,000 park bond was passed; followed by $1,000,000 in 1908; $2,000,000 in 1910; and $500,000 in 1912.

In 1907 the Superintendent was joined by a new staff position, the Assistant Superintendent, and in the following year the first directorship, Playgrounds Director, was created. In 1912 the first full-time engineer appeared under the title Chief Engineer, later to be changed to Park Engineer. By 1922 a Head Gardener had been appointed, and two more directorships created: the Zoo Director and the Bathing Beaches Director.

In 1925 the charter was amended such that no more money could be spent in the acquisition of park properties than was available through the park fund. In that same year, the Park Engineer was replaced by a new position, the Landscape Architect. In 1926 the Board abolished the position of Superintendent, distributing that position's responsibilities between the Head Gardener and the Landscape Architect. In 1927 the position title of Park Engineer was re-established, but with the duties and responsibilities of the old superintendent, while the new Junior Park Engineer directly managed engineering and construction activity.

In 1926 Mayor Bertha K. Landes appointed a Municipal Recreation Committee, comprised of Park Board members, School Board members, and a representative of the community at large, to analyze ways in which they could cooperatively contribute to the municipal recreation program. The Committee submitted its report to the Mayor in January 1928. The report detailed which facilities were provided by the Park Board and which by the School Board; how the facilities could be more efficiently utilized; and what additional facilities were required.

A ten-year plan for the Department of Parks was announced in 1931. This plan, based upon a projected population for the Seattle metropolitan area in 1940, was a program of development aimed at making better use of existing properties, adding to those properties that needed more space, and acquiring new properties in those parts of town that were experiencing growth. Much of this plan would be realized by the Works Projects Administration later in the decade.

In 1939 administration of playground programs and bathing beaches was consolidated under the newly created position. In 1940, with the opening of the West Seattle Golf Course (the citys third municipal golf course) the position of Golf Director was established. A 1948 Charter amendment required the Board of Park Commissioners to appoint a park superintendent, and the position was to be excluded from the classified civil service.

A Charter amendment in 1967 reconstituted the Board of Park Commissioners as an advisory body to the Mayor, Council, the renamed Department of Parks and Recreation, and other City agencies. The amendment placed the fiscal and operational admistration of the department under the control of the Superintendent of Parks, who was now appointed by the Mayor to serve a four-year term. The specific duties of both the Superintendent and the Board, as well as the number of members and term length for the latter, were to be prescribed by ordinance. Council passed an ordinance in 1968 (Ordinance 96453) which defined the Board as a seven-member body with three-year terms of service.

The $65 million Forward Thrust bond was approved by voters in 1968. By 1974, with matching funds, interest, etc., it had grown to 92 million dollars in working capital; by 1976, over 40 new properties had been obtained by the Department of Parks and Recreation utilizing these funds. Forward Thrust and the Seattle Model City Program together supported the largest expansion of the Park system in Seattle history. These programs funded more than 70 new parks and park facilities.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

In 1937 Archie Phelps noticed that a 68-acre corner of the West Seattle Golf Course was not being utilized for golfing. He contacted Judge William Long with a proposal to turn the tract of land into a campsite for the Boy Scouts of West Seattle. Judge Long came out to look at the land and thought that it held great possibilities not only for the Boy Scouts but for children throughout the city. Representatives from the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Camp Fire Girls were contacted and after touring the site, they all agreed on its potential.

Clark Shurman, a camping, climbing, and wilderness expert, joined the team to design the camp. Finances were tight due to the Depression, but City Councilmember Mildred Powell convinced the Council to give a small appropriation for the park, and the federal Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.) provided manpower to match the city's monetary contribution. Even still the park was constructed though some creative means, using materials from projects all over the city. Lumber was used from a dismantled school building, building materials from a Civilian Conservation Corps camp, and old stone paving blocks from the repaving of East Madison Street. Ornamental trees came via the Supreme Court after they received a nursery from a bankrupt estate.

Shurman also designed a climbing rock he named "Monitor Rock," known today as "Shurman Rock." His design was meant to incorporate every mountaineering rock problem a climber might encounter during an actual climb. It stands at 25 feet high and 15 feet across and has been used by climbers for many years.

This collection contains historical information, news clippings, camp programming brochures from 1979 through 2010, special event documents, and other ephemera including a perfect attendance award from a camper in 1964. Additional records include camp policy and procedure materials and annual reports.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

[Item and date], Camp Long Records, Record Series 5808-03. Box [number], Folder [number]. Seattle Municipal Archives.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1 Newspaper Clippings 1941-2014
1 2 Camp Long Map 2000
1 3 Camp Long Poster Design 2006
1 4 Educational Booklets 1985-2000
1 5 Special Events 1981-1984
1 6 Programming Brochures 1979-1989
1 7 Programming Brochures 1990-1995
1 8 Programming Brochures 1999-2003
1 9 Programming Brochures 2004-2007
2 1 Programming Brochures 2008-2010
2 2 Environmental Learning Center Year-End Report 2005
2 3 Vegetation Plan 1995
2 4 65th Anniversary Celebration 2006
2 5 Schurman Rock History & Restoration 1944-2003
2 6 Historical Information 1937-1990
2 7 Camp Program Dedication 1941
2 8 Camp Long Day Camp Procedures 1945-1959
2 9 History of Camp Long 1940
2 10 50th Anniversary 1991
2 11 Perfect Attendance Award 1964
2 12 Opening Ceremony/ Centennial Celebration 1984
2 13 Interdepartmental Memos 1937-2003
2 14 Judge Long History 1932-1984
2 15 Grant Letter 1986
2 16 Art for Coloring Books & Other Publications 1940-2000
3 1 Camp Long 5 Year Management Plan 1980-1985
3 2 Boy Scout Troop 65 1973-1994
3 3 Access Appreciation Day 1981
3 4 Camp Long Overview 2002
3 5 Advertising 2006
3 6 Nature Trail Guide & Cook Book 1998
3 7 Environmental Education 1993-1996
3 8 Thank You Day 1985-2006
3 9 Lince Memos - Programs & Job Restoration 1979-1982
3 10 Dead Horse Lake Ridge 1999-2005
3 11 Dearborn Park Elementary 2000-2003
3 12 Camp Long Newsletters 1996-1997
3 13 3 Year Master Plan - Camping Section 1973

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Camp Long (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Parks--Washington (State)--Seattle

Geographical Names

  • West Seattle (Seattle, Wash.)