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Seat of Mason County, spreads in neat squares over the flats bordering the bay. From here highways radiate to all parts of the peninsula. In 1853 David Shelton settled on a donation claim; then other settlers began to arrive, at first slowly and then more rapidly as the demand for logs and cut timber grew. In 1884 the town was platted and named for its first settler. For a number of years it grew and prospered as a sawmill town and center for logging operations, which ate their way steadily inland, consuming in less than a generation forests that it had taken thousands of years to produce.

Unlike many sawmill and logging towns, Shelton is finding industries to take up the slack left by the depletion of the supply of timber suitable for milling. Most important of these is the manufacture of wood pulp, for which smaller trees are suitable.


1910 view of Shelton.

Source: Washington State Historical Society

1890 view of Shelton, showing houses, farms and a courthouse (far right).

Source: Washington State Historical Society

Points of Interest Points of Interest icon

Shelton Public Library and Town Hall

Built in 1914 Shelton Public Library and Town Hall is a fine example of that juncture in the history of many Western towns when primitive settlements struggled to develop into established communities. As these boom camps started to gain permanent residents, social hierarchies and financial security, many of them began to redefine their image and prominent citizens often launched campaigns of civic improvement. The Shelton Public Library and Town Hall was not only evidence of past successes, but was also a promise of future prosperity. The Shelton Public Library and Town Hall was built in memory of Sol G. Simpson, Shelton pioneer and founder of the Simpson Timber Company. The building was a gift to the people of Shelton from Simpson’s widow, Mary Garrard Simpson (nicknamed Tollie), and Alfred Anderson, another pioneer of Shelton and the Simpson Timber Company. It was through the efforts and insights of these two men and their successor, Mark Reed, that the future of Shelton as a center of the forest products industry was secured.

Mason County Courthouse

The Mason County Courthouse, completed in 1930, is an excellent example of a substantial government building in an ordinary small western United States community, where the building reflects community values and comes an important center in the life of the community. White Mason County is not famous for producing important historical figures, most residents of Mason County over the last 80 years has interacted with one another, and with their leaders, in this building. Over the years, it has housed numerous elected officials: commissioners, judges, sheriffs, and many others. The building’s character and overall expression are representative of elements of the Beaux Arts architectural style, and its important architectural features have been retained, so that consistency of appearance remains. It is one of several substantial Shelton buildings designed by Joseph Wohleb, with other buildings coming both before and after the Mason County Courthouse.

Goldsborough Creek Bridge

The visual impact of the simple concrete arched form which crosses the Goldsborough Creek on Route 3 provides an appropriate entrance way into the community of Shelton. The 57-foot bridge which consists of a 55 foot half through ribbed concrete arch, and rests on concrete abutments with timber pile bulkheads, was constructed by MacRae Brothers in 1923. It is 24 feet wide, curb to curb, and carries a sidewalk along the outside of each arch. The Goldsborough Creek Bridge is one of five concrete tied arches with in the State. It is the shortest of the five, and like the Native American Timothy Memorial Bridge in Garfield County, there are no horizontal struts above the road- connecting the two arches. The Goldsborough Creek Bridge is one of five concrete tied arches within the State. Although there are examples of tied arches that, were built throughout the 20’s and 30’s, this concrete arch form has remained rare.

Simpson Logging Company Locomotive No. 7 & Peninsular Railway Caboose No. 700

The Simpson Logging Company Locomotive No. 7 and the Peninsular Railway Caboose No. 700 are good examples of the kind of specialized railroad equipment used to transport logs from woods to mill. Built in 1924, Locomotive No.7 represents a relatively late development of the Shay-type locomotive invented in 1879 by Ephraim Shay, a Michigan logger. No.7 is one of many Shay locomotives sold in the Northwest during the early 1920’s logging boom. Caboose No. 700 was built by the Peninsular Railway Company, a subsidiary of Simpson Logging Company, and is typical of caboose cars used by logging firms throughout the Northwest. The year that Locomotive No. 7 was built, 1924, has special significance to the City of Shelton. In that year, construction began on the first of two sawmills which later brought unprecedented growth and stability to the town. Today, the caboose and locomotive serve as vital historical links to an important era in the development of Mason County’s timber industry.