Swantown, Olympia

Swantown, Olympia

by | Mar 12, 2019

Swantown Slough was located in South Puget Sound, at the head of Budd Inlet in Olympia, Washington. The slough was filled between 1910 and 1911 with over 2,000,000 cubic yards (1,529,109 cu m) of sediment dredged and placed behind bulkheads. This created almost 30 city blocks of land that eventually became part of downtown Olympia. This massive project was privately financed in part to replace a wharf over 4,000 feet (1200 m) long that provided the only access to deep water across the extensive tidal flat.

This area was home to the Steh-Chass peoples for thousands of years. The first Europeans came in 1792 when Peter Puget and a crew from the Vancouver Expedition explored the area. In 1846, Edmund Sylvester and Levi Smith jointly claimed the land that now comprises downtown, Olympia. The population steadily expanded with Oregon Trail migrants and in 1850, the town was named Olympia for the view of the Olympic Mountains to the northwest. In 1851, the U.S. Congress established the Customs District of Puget Sound for the Washington Territory. Olympia became the home of the new customs house, and a fleet of small steamboats known as the Puget Sound Mosquito Fleet began serving the area.

John M. Swan was an early pioneer of Olympia who immigrated from Scotland in 1850. Like other early inhabitants of Olympia, he received two town lots from community founder Edmund Sylvester. In 1851, he acquired another 317 acres (128 ha) which became known as Swantown. This was separated from downtown Olympia by tidal mudflats called the Swantown Slough. When the slough was filled, the ensuing development became known as Swantown or Eastside Olympia and is now part of downtown. In 1997, the name of East Bay Marina was changed to Swantown Marina and Boatworks to commemorate this history. Read more here and here. Explore more of Swantown here:

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