Fort Nisqually, Sequalitchew Creek

Fort Nisqually, Sequalitchew Creek

by | Feb 2, 2021

Fort Nisqually was established as a trading post by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1833 near the mouth of Sequalitchew Creek, about 14 miles (22.5 km) southwest of Tacoma and 2 miles (3.2 km) northwest of Dupont, Washington. The purpose of the fort was to facilitate fur trading, primarily for beaver pelts, with friendly Native Americans in return for wool blankets, guns, and other manufactured goods. The buildings fell into disrepair when the fort was abandoned in 1869, and were restored as an exhibit in Point Defiance Park as part of a Great Depression era Works Progress Administration program.

The area around the mouth of Sequalitchew Creek, where the plains and salmon-rich rivers provided food, was home to the Sequalitchew-Nisqually people for thousands of years. Carbon dating of shells at a local midden site showed that human life thrived here 5,700 years ago. In 1792, the British Captain George Vancouver and his party arrived and explored Puget Sound. In 1832, Archibald McKenzie with the Hudson’s Bay Company established a trading post on the beach at the mouth of Sequalitchew Creek and left a contingent to overwinter. The following year, Chief Trader Francis Heron moved the location of the post to the Sequalitchew Prairie above the beach and began construction of a fort. In 1843, Chief Trader William Tolmie move the fort again about 1 mile (1.6 km) east to be closer to freshwater. In 1846, the treaty between the United States and Great Britain established the boundary between the two country’s claims at the 49th parallel, leaving Fort Nisqually on American soil. With the fur trade in decline and increasing harassment from American settlers, tax collectors, and revenue agents, Fort Nisqually closed in 1869. A former employee of Fort Nisqually, Edward Huggins, became an American citizen and took over the site as his homestead and the most of the buildings were abandoned.

In 1934, Fort Nisqually was rebuilt at Point Defiance Park near Tacoma. The restoration was part of a Roosevelt New Deal program to provide jobs during the Great Depression. Only two buildings, the granary and factor’s house, were moved from their original locations, the rest having fallen into decay. Today, the restored Fort Nisqually is a living history museum that includes the two original buildings, and a replica trade store, blacksmith shop, laborers residence, kitchen, and garden. The original 1833 location is now a golf course in DuPont, and the 1843 location is owned by The Archaeological Conservancy. Read more here and here. Explore more of Fort Nisqually here:

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