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Seattle to Olympia

  • Distance: 71 miles
  • Routes: Old Highway 99
  • Estimated Driving time: 2 hours

Towns off the main route are, for the most part, rather widely separated. Rolling hills enclose the numerous river valleys of the northern portion, while, southward, the land levels off into a prairie. Tangles of Scotch broom, masses of yellow bloom in spring and summer, cover miles of the open forest, and in season the prairie is blue with camas flowers.

Around the seaport cities of Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia are concentrated most of the shipping and the manufacturing of western Washington. Although lumber and fish account for much of the maritime commerce, the Sound ports are an outlet for the agricultural produce of the entire State, from Wenatchee apples to Puyallup bulbs and berries.

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The largest city of the Pacific Northwest, it lies along Elliott Bay, on the east shore of Puget Sound, 128 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Originally built on seven hills, with intervening lowlands, it extends between Puget Sound and Lake Washington, which are joined by two canals and Lake Union. It was named for Noah Sealth, chief of several Native American tribes when Seattle was established in 1851. He was...

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Pike Place Market opened August 17th, 1907, and is one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers’ markets in the United States. In 1963, a proposal was put forward to demolish Pike Place and replace it with a new development. Significant community opposition led by the “Friends of the Market” spurred the passage of a historic preservation ordinance in 1971 which designated the market a local landmark historic district and...

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Butterworth Building

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Alaska Trade Building

Pioneer Square-Skid Row Historic District marks the start of Seattle and the development into a major city. The historic district stemmed from the historic preservation movement of the 1960s that resulted in creation of the Pioneer Square Historic District in 1970.

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Union Station

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Triangle Hotel and Bar

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Washington Street Public Boat Landing Facility

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Pioneer Building

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King Street Station

The district consists of a collection of early 20th century commercial and hotel buildings. This district forms the center of Seattle’s diverse Asian American community. Established in 1973 in order to retain the district’s historic character following the significant impacts of Interstate 5 construction in the late 1960s that cut across the east portion of the district, removing many buildings and contributing to the shutdown of over half of the...

Learn more about International District
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Chinatown

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Nihonmachi

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Panama Hotel

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Filipino Community

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African Americans

Developed as the city’s industrial district, it continues to convey this industrial character and be an important start up location for small manufacturing businesses and the center of operation for many well established and iconic Seattle manufacturing businesses, including Filson, Obert Marine Supply, and Compton Lumber. Originally tide flats, the area was built up over time with and expansive railyards added and the Seattle Port facilities developed along its west...

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Annexed to Seattle in 1907 the community grew up through Japanese and Italian farmers that worked small plots and supplied the Pike Place Market. World War II and industrial development dramatically changed the community’s setting, during the 1960s the entire city was rezoned as industrial, but community protest successfully changed the zoning to low-density residential. The first name was Ox Bow, for a curve in the Duwamish River. An alternate...

Learn more about South Park
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14th Avenue South Bridge

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Loretta’s Northwesterner

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Duwamish River

The name was given by F. A. Blasher when he founded the town in 1887. He persuaded friends in his former home city, Des Moines, Iowa, to finance the some of the developments and operated under the name of Des Moines Improvement Company. The city faces a long sweep of crescent beach, its shores lined with summer homes, and suburban residences. By the 1940s, poultry raising, dairying, and berry cultivation...

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Covenant Beach Bible Camp

Mile: 20

A beach resort. In the old days Redondo achieved notoriety for its illegal prizefights; a barge, loaded to the gunwales with fighters and fans, was towed far enough from shore to escape local constables, but not far enough to appease objecting residents, who finally succeeded in having the bouts stopped. It was reportedly named by a settler for Redondo Beach in California. Another name for the bay which has appeared...

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Located at a valley crossroads by the 1940s it was in the midst of a thickly settled berry growing and truck-gardening district that was represented by a string of markets, taverns, shops, and a large, balloon-roofed dance hall along the highway. Beyond Fife the highway was illuminated at night by a special type of sodium-vapor lights that produce a strong amber glow which penetrates the frequent fogs that drift across...

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Poodle Dog Restaurant

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Fife Fountain

The Puyallup Avenue Bridge, crosses Puyallup River, also known as Eells Street Bridge, opened in 1927, on ne of last parts in construction of the Pacific Highway. five steel-truss spans linked by reinforced concrete sections. Opening of I5 reduced traffic on bridge in December 1960, remains an important arterial, linking Fife to Tacoma's industrial area and the port of Tacoma.

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Lying along the protected waters of Puget Sound and Commencement Bay, into which the Puyallup River drains, is about midway between Seattle to the north and Olympia to the southwest. Commencement Bay, a fine natural harbor on the Sound, is recognized as one of the country’s leading ports. Few cities may boast a more beautiful setting. To the west is the sweep of Puget Sound with wooded bluffs rising from...

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Built in 1930 in response to the booming popularity of the automobile in the late 1920s, buildings like the Coffee Pot Restaurant were constructed to captivate potential customers. They were designed in the unique Programmatic, or Mimetic style of architecture which conveyed the use or purpose of the building. Over the years, The Coffee Pot Restaurant (known as Bob‟s Java Jive since the mid 1950s), has become a prominent fixture...

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Before the United States entered the World War in 1917, Pierce County voted bonds to purchase 62,000 acres of land midway between Tacoma and Olympia and present this tract for a military cantonment. On that rolling, flat, prairie land rose Camp Lewis, named in honor of Captain Meriwether Lewis. Barracks were quickly constructed, tents pitched, and sewage, water, and lighting systems installed. The accommodations and training facilities necessary for the...

Learn more about Joint Base Lewis-McChord
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Entrance to Fort Lewis

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McChord Field Historic District

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American Lake Veterans Hospital

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Captain Wilkes Celebration Site

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Adjutant General’s Residence

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Red Shield Inn/Lewis Army Museum

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Prairie

The tour rambles across the Nisqually River and through a park-like forest that fringes the brow of a bluff overlooking Puget Sound and the channels of Nisqually Flats. Nisqually, is on the delta of the river. Little of the scattered settlement, except a tiny railroad station, can be seen from the highway. The Nisqually Tribe is located on the Nisqually River in rural Thurston County, 15 miles east of Olympia....

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Lacey has not always been as quiet as it is today; there was once a large lumber mill here, and the town was the horse-racing center of the Northwest. Atop a low hill is St Martin’s (Roman Catholic) College, constructed in Tudor Gothic style. A scientist on the college faculty pioneered in the field of radio in the Northwest, broadcasting as early as 1921. Here, laity of the Seattle Diocese...

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State capital and seat of Thurston County, Olympia spreads, fan-like, from its harbor on Puget Sound over gently sloping hills, with Mount Rainier on the east and the more distant Olympics visible to the north. Here, near the place where the Nisqually once met in solemn council to devise means of protection against the soleeks itsweet (angry brown bear), today legislators convene to represent the citizens of Washington State. From...

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