Your South Sound Guide to Old Buildings, Businesses, and Landmarks

Are you a history buff searching for a blast from the past in the South Sound? Look no further than the historic districts of Pierce County. From charming old time-y businesses to landmarks with stories to tell, there’s no shortage of tales of time gone by to explore. Whether you’re searching for history or just some old-world beauty, let us help you plan your next visit with our list of must-see spots across the region.



ashford mansion bed and breakfast


Just a short six-mile drive from the Nisqually entrance of Mount Rainier National Park, the mountain town of Ashford has heaps of history to explore. For a trip back in time, visit the Ashford Mansion Bed & Breakfast (built in 1903), which offers both rentable cozy lodgings and lessons of the past. There’s also the Whittaker’s Bunkhouse (established in 1909), originally a bunkhouse for loggers that has now been converted into a place for all park goers and past-seekers alike.



carbonado ranger station

Once a bustling mining town, Carbonado is a small community nestled along the Carbon River, standing today as a spectacle of the rich history of the region and ways of life that have come to pass. One such historic site is the Carbon River Ranger Station (built in 1908), which now serves as the perfect spot to begin your exploration of the river valley and close-by Mount Rainier National Park. You can also visit the Carbonado School (built in 1929), well-preserved to celebrate the heritage of the community. 



DuPont Historical Society Exterior



Originally settled by the Nisqually Tribe, DuPont serves as home to the original site of Fort Nisqually, which you can still visit today to see what living in the 1850s was like. It also hosts the DuPont PowderWorks Park, named for the former DuPont Powder Works company, which helped keep the region going with major economic impact during World War I. For a showcase of all DuPont has to offer, we recommend a stop at the DuPont Historical Museum where you can learn about the proud history of the region.



Eatonville Washington

Eatonville is an adorable small town nestled in the foothills of Mount Rainier, offering a charming downtown, can’t-miss shopping, cozy cafes, and lots of history to explore. A great stop for the explorer in you is the Pioneer Farm Museum and Ohop Indian Village, which serves as a historical depiction of both pioneer and Native American life in the region. You can also take a stroll through Millpond Park for picturesque views, walking trails, and an opportunity to get close to the spectacular nature of the region.



Elbe at Mount Rainier Little White Church


Sitting peacefully along the Nisqually River, the small community of Elbe is a perfect stop in your South Sound search for the past. On your next visit, be sure to take a peek at the Elbe Evangelical Lutheran Church (built in 1906), standing as a stunning example of the region's traditions. You’ll also have the opportunity to visit Mt. Rainier Railroad for a look at the historic trains, and a chance for a ride during one of their scheduled excursions. Or, just stay local and explore the restored one-room of the Elbe Historic School (built in 1906).



Steilacoom Historical Museum


For your last historical stop, where better to round out your trip across the South Sound than the seaside town of Steilacoom - known for its beaches, parks, delicious eats, and regional history. In fact, Steilacoom is Washington State’s oldest city,  having been incorporated in 1854! To learn more about this quaint waterside town and the development of the area, start your stay with a visit to the Steilacoom Historical Museum. Enjoy a walk (or the views) on Sunnyside Beach Park, and finally, grab a bite to eat at the Bair Bistro, which has been a staple of the town dating back to the establishment of the business in 1895 as a drug store and post office.


Have any additional historical sites in the South Sound to share? Tag us on Instagram or Facebook @visittacomapiercecounty!