From the time the pioneers first moved west, Steilacoom was a prosperous Town established by early merchant Lafayette Balch with a port, wharf, and store – a bustling hub for settlers fresh from treks over the Oregon and Naches Trails.
John Chapman founded a competing townsite adjoining Balch’s new settlement. Eventually, both towns merged into one.
Ideally located with three of the territory’s five major roads running through it, Steilacoom also boasted a water-powered grist mill and a wagon shop.
Prior to the arrival of the railroad, Steilacoom was a regional draw for summer visitors and residents as wealthy families flocked to the water for the summer months.
Today, Steilacoom is an active bedroom community whose residents respect the remaining architectural ties to its vibrant history.
READ MORE about the history of Steilacoom
What are the most surprising facts about Steilacoom?
A prominent feature on the hills and plains of Steilacoom was a pink flower known as Indian Pink (Lythophragma parviflorum). Therefore, among the Puget Sound tribes, the name Steilacoom was taken to mean the people of the Indian Pink area. 'Steilacoom' is actually an anglicization of the Whulshootseed (sometimes spelled 'Lushootseed') word č'tilqwəbš (pronounced "CH'tilQWubSH"). Today the Steilacoom Flower is also known as smallflower fringecup or small-flowered woodland star. (See image to the left.)
LEARN MORE about the Indian Pink flower.
Does your community have any famous residents?
Lafayette Balch & John Chapman - Town Founders
Leroy Petry - Medal of Honor Recipient
What are the biggest annual event(s) in Steilacoom?
During the Summer, the Town sponsors a Farmers' Market and a Summer Concert Series on Wednesday afternoons into the evening.
The Town and Chamber of Commerce conduct an Independence Day celebration which includes a street fair, parade, fun run, and community supported fireworks show provides entertainment for people of all ages!
On the last Sunday in July, the Steilacoom Historical Museum Association sponsors a Salmon Bake at Sunnyside Park.
The Chamber of Commerce hosts a Town-wide Garage Sale in August.
On the first Sunday in October, the Steilacoom Historical Museum Association sponsors an Apple Squeeze in downtown Steilacoom.
What do you want visitors to discover in your community?
The Steilacoom Historical Museum Association provides a walking tour of the historical sites within Steilacoom. Additionally, SHMA operates a museum and provides tours of the historic Lafayette Balch and Wagon Shop. The Steilacoom Tribe operates a museum containing native artifacts and provides details on the rich history of the Tribe.
Where would you take someone on a first date in Steilacoom?
During the summer, I would take my date to the Farmers' Market and then enjoy dinner at Pioneer Park while listening to the concert and looking out over the Puget Sound.
Alternatively, dining at The Bair Bistro, Topside Bar & Grill, or Steilacoom Pub & Grill followed by a walk through Sunnyside Beach Park would provide an entertaining evening out.