|Clark Schurman architect,
designer of the first ever climbing wall was born Clark Elbert
Schrman, on the 6th August 1882 in Wisconsin. He was an artist,
poet, Boy Scout leader, mountaineer, and more importantly for our
story, the designer and creator of the worlds first artificial
climbing wall structure at Camp Long near Seattle, The Monitor Rock.
In turn he was also Camp Longs first director.
His father, Lemuel Hooper Schurman was
born 1st December 1843, probably in Centreville Bedeque, Prince
Edwin Island, and died 14 Aug 1924 in Pasadena, California. He
married, first, 1 Oct 1881 in Beloit, Wisconsin, Sarah Kate
Doolittle, daughter of Harry Jones and Esther Elvira (Nichols)
Doolittle. She was born 16 Jan 1854 in Belvidere, Illinois. and died
12 Oct 1925 in Chicago, Ill.
They had three children Clark, Bryce Lorin Schurman (b. 11 Nov
1884, d. 12 Dec 1965) Blanche Miriam Schurman (b. 14 Aug 1886, d. 29
May 1956). In 1907 Lemuel and Sarah divorced.
About 1866 Lemuel left his Cumberland County home for Portsmouth,
New Hampshire. He went into photography, following that work in New
York and Belvidere, Illinois in an era of daguerreotypes and
About 1880 he moved from Belvidere to
Beloit, Wisconsin, where on the 6th August Clark Elbert Schurman was
born. They later moved to Fort Madison, Iowa; to Julesburg,
Colorado, where he had a boot and shoe store; back to Beloit; to
Avon, Wisconsin; to Rockford, Illinois, where he ran a grocery store
in the mid-1890s; to Beloit again, where he resumed
photography work; to Chicago in 1905; to Pasadena in 1920.
In 1900 Clark at the age of 17 is
still living with his parents and siblings in Beloit Wisconsin and
working in the family store as a Dry Goods Clerk.
Wife and Family
Clark Elbert Schurman married Alma
Florence Bentley, daughter of Frederick J.& Bentley and Clara
Hunt, on 1 September 1908 in Beloit, Wisconsin, U.S.A and ion 9th
September 1909 their son Robert Bentley is Born, but dies ion 9th
September 1910. At this time (1910)
they are living in Grand Rapids City, Michigan and he is working as
an advertising manager and graphic designer for a printing company.
Around this time Clark and Alma had a daughter whom they called
During the first world war they lived
at 282 Pingree, Detroit, Wayne Michigan where Clark was working as a
Boy Scout Executive, employed by The Detroit Council Boy Scouts of
America at the Board of Commerce in Detroit. Whilst here on the 12th
September 1918 he was drafted into the Army towards the end of World
War One. On the 19th October 1918 Alma died of influenza, one of the
millions that died in the post war epidemic. Schurman sent his only
surviving child, Ruth, to live with relatives near Chicago when he
moved to Seattle to work with the Boy Scouts of America.
|At the time of the
Census he is living as a lodger, Kings, Brooklyn New York,
presumably while waiting to depart on the Pocahantas for Europe
where he takes part in first International Scout Jamboree at
Olympia in England.
Once he arrived in Seattle, it
didn't take long for Schurman to fall in love with the
He was a senior guide on Rainier in
the 1930s through 1942. Most accounts of Schurman mention that he
was constantly sketching. In 1937, he joined three other men,
including William Long, a juvenile court judge, in developing a plan
to turn the 68 acres that were once part of Puget Mill's massive
timber holdings into a camp where Scouts and other youth groups
could learn outdoor skills. Schurman also envisioned the park as the
place to realize his long time dream: the building of a man made
peak where inexperienced climbers could safely practice their
mountaineering skills. For years, he worked on the idea in clay.
Monitor Rock, as it was first known, was built by the Works Progress
Administration between 1938 and 1939.
He worked with the areas youth,
while his creative mind and artistic talent gave him a career as a
commercial artist. His scouting activities led to his involvement in
the early climbing course of The Mountaineers. At this time he was
also Chief Guide at Mount Rainer.
writes, "In 1939, Schurman was invited by the RNPCo
concessionaire to operate its guide department at Paradise. With
his rather brusque military manner and appearance, Clark
Schurman reminded me of General John Pershing, famed leader of
the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. Several of
Schurman's guides were recruited from his Seattle Scout Troop
65, and they were accustomed to addressing him as "Mr.
Schurman," and responding with "Yes, Sir" and No,
Sir to his requests in the Guide House. But he also hired
a few teachers and college professors, and some of them quietly
balked at playing the subservient role in this manner. Yet
beneath Schurmans stern surface I found a kindred artistic
soul. He had taken a chance and given me the opportunity to
enter the world of real mountaineering, and I had no problem
treating him with respect.".
Courtesy of The
Clark Schurman is on the left. Dee
Molenaars full article on his time as a guide on Mont Rainer is
well worth reading
Clark Elbert Schurman died on the 28th
January 1955 at Urbana, Champaign, Illinois, USA In 1957 the Monitor
Rock at Camp Long was rededicated as the Schurman Rock in his
In 1962 after three years work by
volunteers Camp Schurman was opened on Mount Rainer.
In his words.
campfires never die,
And you and I on separate ways to
Will dream by this last fire,
and have This Mountain to remember.