Steilacoom, Washington

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Steilacoom is a town in Pierce County, Washington, United States. The population was 6,049 at the 2000 census. Steilacoom is on the coast of Puget Sound, on a branch not visible on the map to the right. Steilacoom incorporated in 1854 and became the first incorporated town in what is now Washington State.

Based on per capita income, one of the more reliable measures of affluence, Steilacoom ranks 61st of 522 areas in the state of Washington to be ranked. The Steilacoom School District #1[3] consists of Cherrydale Primary School, Saltar's Point Elementary School, Harriet Taylor Elementary School, Anderson Island School, Chloe Clark Elementary School, Pioneer Middle School, and Steilacoom High School.

Contents

History

The origin of the name "Steilacoom" is unclear. One story is that it comes from fur traders with the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) and is an adaptation of "Tail-a-Koom", the name of an Indian chief. In 1824 HBC chief factor John Work called it "Chilacoom". Another early spelling was "Chelakom".[4][5] The Town of Steilacoom says it comes from the name of the Steilacoom tribe, especially their main village in the Tacoma area, located on Chambers Bay. This village was called Scht’ləqʷəm, later anglicized as Steilacoom.[6]

Steilacoom was founded by Lafayette Balch, a sea captain from Maine, and officially incorporated in 1854. It is the oldest incorporated town in Washington and has 4 individual buildings and sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the oldest Catholic Church in the state and the first Protestant Church north of the Columbia River, as well as the Steilacoom Historic District, with 68 contributing properties.

Steilacoom's main source of early prosperity was the manufacture and export of lumber to San Francisco. When the United States Congress established the Washington Territory on March 2, 1853, Governor Isaac Stevens chose Steilacoom to be the seat of Pierce County.

Steilacoom was once the leading candidate to become the territorial capital and the one-time county seat, but lost its chance for dominance in the south Puget Sound region when the Northern Pacific Railroad picked rival city, Tacoma for its west coast terminus in 1873. Steilacoom has since settled into its role of suburban bedroom community.

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