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Located on the Skookumchuck River. In 1854 Aaron Webster settled the site and built a sawmill on the river. The Native Americans called the community that grew up around the mill seatco, a name which clung to the town for over 35 years. The discovery of coal across the river brought John D. David, Portland capitalist, and John M. Buckley, of the Northern Pacific Railway, to the scene, where, with Samuel Coulter, they developed a mine. The village was the site of the first Territorial penitentiary. The use of convict labor in the coal mine and near-by logging camps created a scandal that caused the removal of the institution to Walla Walla in 1887. The name Bucoda, adopted in 1890, was a combination of the first syllables of the names of Messrs. Buckley, Coulter, and David.

Points of Interest Points of Interest icon

Seatco Prison Site

Nothing remains of the infamous Seatco Prison, built in 1878. The first territorial prison in Washington was a private business venture involving the Sheriffs of Pierce and Thurston County. A former prisoner called the crowded prison “hell on earth”. It had a short run. In 1887, the new prison at Walla Walla was built. The remnants of Seatco were demolished in the 1920’s.

Frost's Prairie

Frost’s Prairie is an open area north of Bucoda in southern Thurston County. Gelhert H. Frost had a Donation Land Claim on the prairie, but did not prove up on his claim until March of 1866.

Oliver and Mary Shead House

This two-storey frame Italianate home was built in 1887 for the Shead’s, a founding family of Bucoda. Oliver acquired a sawmill in 1877 and was quite successful. He was also a partner in the Seatco Prison business enterprise, using prison labor to work in his expanding mill.