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Tacoma History

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History Information

Puget Sound Indian tribes, such as the Puyallup and Nisqually, called the Pierce County area home for centuries before the first European explorers arrived. Primarily a hunting-gathering culture, these indigenous people called Mount Rainier "Tacobet," meaning "Mother of Waters." However, "Tacobet" was interpreted by the white man as "Tahoma," which later became the name of a pioneer city, Tacoma.

Washington State History Museum

The Washington State History Museum is where fascination and FUN come together! People of all ages can explore and be entertained in an environment where characters from Washington's past speak about their lives. Through interactive exhibits, theatrical storytelling, high-tech displays and dramatic artifacts, learn about our state's unique people and places, as well as their impact on the country and the world.

Begin your journey through Washington with an architectural masterpiece: designed by Charles Moore and Arthur Andersson, the 106,000 square foot museum building stands proudly on Pacific Avenue in Tacoma. The museum boasts soaring spaces and dramatic archways that invite you into a history experience full of colors, textures, sights, and sounds.

Washington Timeline

  • 1900 - Frederick Weyerhaeuser sets up a logging business in western Washington
  • 1902 - Reclamation Service begins irrigation project in Yakima and Okanogan valleys to facilitate farming
  • 1903 - Iron Chink fish cleaning machine invented by Seattleite Edmund A. Smith
  • 1905 - Under the Dawes Act, tribal lands on the south half of the Colville.Reservation not then allotted are declared up for sale to white settlers. The Washington State Highway Department is formed, to oversee the construction and maintenance of roads and highways
  • 1909 - Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition held in Seattle to showcase the Northwest's setting and bounty of natural resources Mount Olympus National Monument established
  • 1910 - Women gain the right to vote in Washington
  • 1914 - Finnish immigrant Oscar Wirkkala invents the "spar logging" technique
  • 1914-1918 - World War I
  • 1917 - Spruce Army originated. Fort Lewis (United States Army) established
  • 1919 - Seattle general strike; labor violence in Centralia. 1928 - Washington courts rule that Workers Party candidates may appear on ballot
  • 1929 - U.S. stock market crashes
  • 1931 - Hoovervilles appear in many cities, glaring evidence of high unemployment rates
  • 1932 - March of unemployment groups on Olympia ends in scuffles between rival organizations
  • 1933 - Washington state unemployment peaks at more than 25 percent President Franklin D. Roosevelt begins New Deal programs; Grand Coulee Dam begun
  • 1934 - Indian Reorganization Act sets up Tribal Business Councils and promotes the return of communal ownership of reservation lands, in order to create self-sufficiency
  • 1937 - Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River completed
  • 1941 - Grand Coulee Dam completed United States enters World War II December: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii bombed by Japan
  • 1943 - Hanford Engineer Works built to produce plutonium for the WWII bomb "Little Boy"
  • 1939-45 - World War II August: U.S. bombs Hiroshima and Nagasaki to help end WWII
  • 1948 - Washington's first TV station (KING-TV) begins broadcasting in Seattle
  • 1954 - First flight of Boeing 707, first jet transport
  • 1957 - Washington Public Power Supply System (WPSS) created to develop Washington's energy resources
  • 1962 - Seattle World's Fair
  • 1975 - Microsoft founded, major producer of computer software
  • 1976 - Dixy Lee Ray, first woman governor of Washington elected
  • 1980 - Mount St. Helens erupted, scattering ash throughout the state
  • 1987 - Clovis Points discovered in an East Wenatchee orchard
  • 1989 - Washington's centennial of statehood
  • 1996 - The new Washington State History Museum opened
  • 2001 - Seattle Communist Party office closed