Janice Krenmayr, "Steilacoom," Footloose Around Puget Sound. Seattle: The Mountaineers, 1974 p. 192-93.

No city in the Puget Sound area, save for Port Townsend, still wears the patina of pioneer days and exudes an atmosphere of the past as does Steilacoom. You go backward in time with each step in this oldest incorporated town on Puget Sound. But hurry, for modern homes now jostle the old; soon the charm of old pewter will be rubbed off by neon and chrome.

Drive south on Interstate 5 to exit west marked "Steilacoom" (north of Ft. Lewis) and continue about 8 miles, past shopping centers and Western State Hospital. These extensive grounds were the early beginning of Fort Steilacoom, begun as a farm by Joseph Heath, English settler. Opposite the main gate of the hospital is a stone pyramid which marks the military road to Walla Walla.

The road narrows, swooping and twisting downhill through woods of alder and fir. A large sign marks entrance to Steilacoom, where Starling Street begins at Cedar Street. Park near here and continue on foot in same direction.

Steilacoom, said to be named after an Indian chief, "Tail-a-koom," (also called "Chilicum" and "Chelacoom") was founded by Captain Lafayette Balch when he was miffed at high land prices in Olympia. It sprouted stores and homes like mushrooms even before it was incorporated in 1854. Five years later it boasted 70 homes and numerous shops, as well as many Puget Sound "firsts" - jail, Protestant Church, courthouse, and mills. This stroll along four streets passes some of these historic sites.

At Union Avenue, which dips down to a ferry dock serving Anderson Island, double back and go in opposite direction on the next street (Rainier). Reaching Cedar, go downhill to Lafayette, walk to Union and reverse again on the last street, Commercial.

Not all sites can be listed, but here grouped by streets -are enough to spur you to find the rest:

Starling: Between Main and Balch, first Territorial Jail, built 1858, torn down 1944.

At Main, look uphill one block. At Nisqually is Catholic Church, built 1857 at Fort Steilacoom and moved here 1864.

Rainier: Before turning back on Rainier, look across Union. On Martin between 6th and 7th was first county courthouse, 1854, now gone. Proceed north.

At Main, look downhill toward Lafayette, east side. Behind a tall, 100-year-old maple was the first wagon shop, built 1875, changed now with false front gone. On its left is an old barn, about 1910. On its right the Nathaniel Orr home, built 1857.

Lafayette: Longest electric line in the world (13 miles) for a time. In operation 1889 to 1916.

Bair Drug Store, corner Wilkes. Built 1895. Still in use. And what an atmosphere! Go in and browse. At rear of store, outside, is monument with bell on top, now rung for fires, marking site of first Protestant Church north of Columbia River. Built 1853.

Town Hall and Visitors Center at Main. Small museum with splendid display of old photographs. Map of town may be purchased.

At Union: Sign marking military road, built in time to provide escape inland from Indian massacre, 1855.

Commercial: (All buildings demolished or moved with coming of Northern Pacific Railway, 1912.)

At Wilkes: Northwest corner, Masonic Temple, 1860.

At Main: North side, site of two-story log house, erected 1852, where first public school classes held; also refuge during Indian war. Almost opposite is restored old mansion built 1858.

Between Balch and Puyallup, south side was first brick store; on north side, butcher shop (1850), postoffice, livery stable, saloon.

At foot of Puyallup, blacksmith shop, run by one of first soldiers who landed, 1849.

Janice Krenmayr, "Steilacoom," Footloose Around Puget Sound. Seattle: The Mountaineers, 1974 p. 192-93.