Historic coach to be given to national park today

Mount Rainier National Park today will become the official owner of a vintage 1937 Kenworth Touring Motor Coach that once transported visitors to the popular Northwest tourist attraction.

Between 1937 and 1962, the vehicle carried visitors to the mountain from the historic Winthrop Hotel in Tacoma and Olympic Hotel in Seattle, according to a release from the park. The bus is being donated by owners Art Redford and Frank Pupo of Gig Harbor. It was purchased by Redford in 1985.

Redford’s daughter-in-law, Kristine Redford, grew up in Chehalis. Her father, Frank Mason, said the bus is a beauty.

“The whole top folds back,” Mason said. “We’ve had a couple wedding parties with it, had a lot of fun with it. It’s got the old original engine, a stick-shift tranny. It’s just a great bus.”

An informal donation ceremony will be held at Longmire in front of the historic Longmire Gas Station at 2 p.m. today.

Redford and Pupo plan to drive the coach from Tacoma to Longmire for the ceremony.

The coach is one of only five built by Kenworth between 1937 and 1938, according to the release.

The owners previously allowed the park to use the coach for its Centennial celebrations in 1999, again in 2007 when the park reopened after the six-month closure from the November 2006 floods, and once again in May 2008 when the historic Paradise Inn reopened to the public after two years of rehabilitation.

The park plans to have the coach on display at various times throughout the summer.