Olympia’s Rich History


Our beloved Olympia has a rich history. There is so much to learn about our city’s past! Read about it below, from olympiawa.gov!

Olympia, located in the South Sound, was also known as Black Bear Place, or “Cheetwoot” to the Coastal Salish, the original occupiers to the area long before established American settlements.

For many Coastal Salish tribes, such as Duwamish, Squaxin and Nisqually, the Budd Inlet  was a popular site for shellfish gathering.  Evidence shows that potlatches, the NW tribal custom in which leaders shared their wealth with their neighboring tribal groups, were held both west and east of the Inlet near Olympia.

For 500 years prior to the coming of white settlers, “Stehtsasamish”, the falls of the Deschutes River at Tumwater, may have a village dedicated to shellfish and salmon harvesting!

In 1792, Peter Puget and a crew from the British Vancouver Expedition are said to have visited the site. The U.S. Exploring Expedition under Lt. Charles Wilkes came to the site in 1841 and named the bay Budd Inlet after Thomas A. Budd, one of the members of that expedition.

Levi Lathrop Smith and Edmund Sylvester claimed the town site in 1846. They need it Smithster or Smither and later Smithfield. The town was named Olympia in 1850, in recognition of the great Olympic mountains visible just to the north on a clear day. Sylvester laid the town in a New England style with a square, streets lined with beautiful trees, a Masonic Hall, School lands, and capitol grounds.


Visit Here to read more!

The views and opinions in this blog do not necessarily represent those of the SouthSoundCommunityGuide. We do however value your opinion.


SSCG is a website designed to bring you the info you want about the community you live in. If you would like to write for SouthSoundCommunityGuide.com please visit our Facebook page and let us know.

Leave a Comment