Without too much fanfare, the Jackson Visitor Center closed its doors to the public today, September 28th, 2008. The NPS is replacing the facility with a new Jackson Visitor Center, scheduled to open (with much fanfare) on October 10th.
For curiosity and fun, I hung out near the main doorway as the final visitors exited and walked away. Over the past two weeks, a public reader board noted today’s significance by counting down the days. Next to it was a hand drawn picture of the space saucer shaped visitor center blasting off into orbit above Mount Rainier. As the front doors were finally locked, you could see rangers and concession employees giggling and smiling inside.
Before the doors closed, I spoke with about one dozen visitors. Interestingly, most didn’t know before arriving in the park that today was the Jackson Visitor Center’s “last day.” Those who did primarily lamented the loss of the 360 degree view from the observation deck, and why wouldn’t they? Today was perfect and the sun was showing off as it slowly slipped behind the mountains and down the Nisqually Valley. The day had been clear and surprisingly warm for late September.
A small crowd cheered as the family (above and left) was informally proclaimed “the last visitors to the JVC.” By the way, there is nothing official about this distinction. It’s just that the doors were promptly locked behind them as they left. Turns out, they were from Puyallup and cruised up in a restored 1969 Cougar to say goodbye. Here is TNT reporter Jeff Mayor talking with them. Note the smiles.
Anyway, now we're just wondering: what sort of welcoming will the new JVC get? More after October 10th.