Podcast | The suffragist who helped preserve WA’s biggest trees

In the early 20th century, Catherine Montgomery spearheaded a movement to preserve old growth in Washington forests. Knute Berger shares her story.

portrait of Catherine Montgomery

Catherine Montgomery was a teacher at the New Whatcom Normal School. It later became Western Washington University. (Public Domain) 

In the early 1900s in Washington, women couldn’t yet vote, but many formed powerful civic groups to advocate for everything from prison reform to forest preservation.

One woman stands out: the mountaineer, teacher, activist and suffragist Catherine Montgomery. Her advocacy helped support women’s empowerment, protect wilderness and old growth trees, and even plant the first seed for what would later become the Pacific Crest Trail.  

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Crosscut’s resident historian Knute Berger introduced us to Catherine Montgomery’s legacy in a recent episode of the Mossback’s Northwest video series, but there is more left to explore.  

In this episode of Mossback, Berger joins co-host Stephen Hegg to paint a picture of Montgomery’s life, the political and social context of her time, and the tough work Montgomery and many other women undertook in that era to advocate for forests and other social causes in the face of rapid development. Plus, we hear what it’s like to visit the little-known park she helped create. 

About the Hosts

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.

Stephen Hegg

Stephen Hegg

Stephen is formerly a senior video producer at Crosscut and KCTS 9. He specialized in arts and culture.