Go West into the roots of Pierce County in the Pacific Northwest

History buffs and old west aficionados will find much to discover through the authentic, historic sites of Pierce County, Washington.

Day 1

Pierce County’s memories goes back the farthest when it comes to early European Settlers to Washington State. Which why it’s no surprise that here you will find the Washington State History Museum, with its interactive exhibits that inspire and educate. Walk through the last two centuries, from Native American camps, to early settlers and the expansion of the railroads. The museum offers a 360-degree site and sound experience that provides the perfect overview to start exploring region’s roots.

Fort Nisqually Living History Museum

Early settlers and fur traders

Fort Nisqually was the first post of the Hudson Bay Heritage Company established in 1833. It became a spot for international trade. Step back in time by visiting the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, in Tacoma’s famous Point Defiance Park. There you can stroll through the old fort and learn from the candlemakers, bakers and weavers who still practice their crafts. The museum also regularly offers classes so you can learn many of these settler skills yourself. For a real adventure, the fort offers a puzzle room that is fastidiously accurate to the late 19th century. Just outside of the part you can also visit the first Tacoma homestead at the Job Carr museum in Old Town.

DuPont Historical Society Exterior

Fort Nisqually was relocated to Point Defiance Park in the early 30s, so don’t miss out on seeing the original location at the DuPont Historical Museum, just a few miles south. There you can see more relics of the early settlers, as well as how the town evolved into the major dynamite supplier as the West expanded by Railroad.

Nearby is Washington’s first city. Visit Steilacoom and experience its stunning views and heritage.

Day 2

Native American history, art and landmarks

In addition the many authentic Native American Art Works in downtown Tacoma, from the large Welcome Figure, to the Totem at Fireman’s Park, Native American culture is part of the past and current cultural landscape of Pierce County.

To see Native American artifacts, visit the Karshner Museum, a museum with multiple artifacts from the Puyallup Tribe.  

Immigrant Artists and the American West at TAM

Cowboy culture

With roots in the old west, Pierce County also appreciates the arts of that bygone era through it’s many avenues of expression. The Tacoma Art Museum has the only permanent Western Art exhibit in the Northwest, The Art of the American West. This exhibit takes a broader view on western art, delving into the myths and lore that color our images of the American West.

Just to the east, in Puyallup, you’ll find the home town of world-famous cowboy artist Fred Oldfield. Oldfield was known for being in both life and art, 100% cowboy. You can learn about his life and see his works at the Fred Oldfield Western Heritage and Art Center.

Meeker Mansion- Heidi Vladyka

A few blocks from the Heritage and Art Center, the Meeker Mansion, with its tie to the historic Oregon Trail is worth a stop. Here you’ll tour the home of Ezra Meeker who built his fortune growing hops, and dedicated his life to memorializing the Oregon Trail.