Historic District Map

Bounded by Interstate 5, the Schmidt House, the falls of the Deschutes River and Tumwater Falls Park, the district was occupied in prehistoric and historic times by Salish Indians, known as the Stehchas, or st tcas bc people.

The Hudson’s Bay Company called the falls “the Chutes” or “Puget Sound Falls”. The falls were a rendezvous point and in 1833, they considered moving the Ft. Nisqually to the site. The Bush-Simmons Party, who crossed the Oregon Trail in 1844, overwintered at Fort Vancouver and probably heard of the falls from the Hudson’s Bay Company.

In 1845, their party of 30 including the Simmons, Bush, McAllister, Kindred and Jones families, along with Jesse Ferguson and Samuel B. Crockett, established the first permanent American settlement on Puget Sound at the falls, called “New Market”.

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Aerial view of the Deschutes River in Tuwmater Falls Park.

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In 1863, the settlement became known as Tumwater, a Chinook Jargon word meaning “falling water.” During the 1860s and 1870s many small factories grew up along its banks, including a tannery, lumber and flour mills, a water pipe factory, a prune drying company, a blacksmith shop and a box factory. General stores, hotels, a literary society, a school and a church followed. Through the early to mid-1900s the area continued as a small business and residential district. However, many historic homes and businesses were razed when Interstate 5 was built in 1957-1958.

 

Click image to enlarge.