Historically a home to the Puyallup native peoples, who fished, hunted, and trapped to earn their livings, Tacoma ‘s natural harbor attracted the earliest European explorers.
Captain George Vancouver sailed into Puget Sound in 1792, naming Puget Sound for his officer, Peter Puget, and Mount Rainier for his friend Admiral Peter Rainier.
40 years later, in April 1833, the Hudson Bay’s Company established Fort Nisqually, a fur trading post, a few miles south of Tacoma and Washington’s first white settlement on Puget Sound.
William Fraser Tolmie stayed at the newly built Fort Nisqually , an HBC trading post . through 1833. His journals and reports provided the first recorded history of the area.
On May 17, 1841 Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, of the U.S. Navy, anchored his vessal The USS Porpoise, at Tacoma , and named Commencement Bay.
In 1852, Nicolas Delin, a Swede, built the first cabin and a water-powered sawmill at the head of Commencement Bay.
A small community grew up around the operation, but the settlers evacuated during the Indian War of 1855-56 and they did not return.
In 1864, Job Carr claimed 168 acres and built his cabin. The Job Carr claim eventually became Tacoma ‘s Old Town area.
Morton M. McCarver arrived in 1868 and purchased most of Carr’s land.
The Northern Pacific Railroad linked Tacoma by rail to the rest of the nation in 1883.
The population had soared to approximately 5,000 in 1884. By 1890 there were 36,000 people living in Tacoma .