Tumwater Falls Park History

While some visitors may assume this is a city or state facility, Tumwater Falls Park is owned by the private, non-profit Olympia Tumwater Foundation. It is open to the public at no charge but receives no government support for staffing or maintenance. If you enjoy the use of its picnic area, playground, or walking trails, please consider making a donation to help with the cost of keeping Tumwater Falls Park beautiful, safe, and clean.

Delighting Visitors for Over Half a Century

In the winter of 1962 Olympia Tumwater Foundation announced plans to build a new scenic park near the falls of the Deschutes River.


Construction of Tuwmater Falls Park, 1963.

With luck it would be finished in time for the summer tourist season, when thousands of travelers would pass through Tumwater on their way to the Seattle World’s Fair. A regional labor strike that spring put the project behind schedule, but the playground and picnic tables were installed by July and the rest of Tumwater Falls Park was largely completed by fall.


Land for the 15-acre park was donated by the Olympia Brewing Company, whose offices, brew house, and cellars rose above the east bank of the property. Features of the completed park included paths along both sides of the canyon, two footbridges over the river, and an observation platform below the Lower Falls. Newly constructed “waterfalls,” fed by water pumped from the Deschutes, splashed through ferns and moss-covered rocks on either side of the gorge.

Image on left: Adolph “Bump” Schmidt (left) and Trueman “Bink” Schmidt (right) discussing construction plans for Tumwater Falls Park.