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Puyallup History Timeline

…a glimpse into our history

3700 b.c.

An eruption of Mt. Rainier sends a mudflow down the Carbon and Puyallup Rivers, in route to Commencement Bay, creating the Puyallup Valley.


Dr. William Fraser Tolmie is the first European to visit the “Poyallip” River valley.

1840’s The first settlers arrive, most apart of the Longmire Wagon Train.

John Carson began operating the first ferry across the Puyallup river.


Ezra and Oliver Meeker arrive in the Puyallup Valley. They come looking for farmland but instead found trees and vegetation so thick they decided to leave.


Puyallup School District was formed.


Indian Wars of 1855-1856.
Indians had burned all but one cabin in the valley, forcing the settlers to move to Fort Steilacoom for safety.  After the war, the government reimbursed all valley settlers for the full amount of all items, crops, valuables, livestock and everything else destroyed by the Indians.


A militia of 17 men returned to the Puyallup Valley and built Fort Maloney, a blockhouse, on what was then the north side of the river near the present location of the War Memorial Community Center in Grayland Park.  In the many years the fort stood, it served as a fort, a school, a home, and a tourist camp.


Ezra Meeker oversaw the building of the first bridge across the Puyallup River.  It was quickly washed out by the river.

Also – The government reported that by 1859, there were 73 claims for property in the valley under the Donation Land Act (320 acres per settler).


The first school class in Puyallup was held in Fort Maloney.


The Franklin post office was established (Puyallup’s original name).  John Carson was the first postmaster.  The Post Office was in his store north of the river.

Also – Ezra Meeker purchased the “improvements” on Jerry Stiller’s “squatters claim” where Pioneer Park is now located.  He also claimed much of the downtown area through the Homestead Act.

Also – Eliza Jane Meeker, Ezra’s wife, opens the first library in Puyallup.

Also – Meeker Mansion is built


Ezra Meeker’s father harvested a crop of hops, the first cash crop of hops in the Puyallup Valley.


The valley’s first portable steam sawmill was now operating.

Also – The “Green School” opened. (Central School).


Ezra Meeker platted the community and named it Puyallup.

Also – Coal deposits in Carbonado and Black Diamond bring the first railroad to the Puyallup Valley.


Puyallup’s population was 750.

1881 Tacoma was suffering from a massive small pox epidemic.  Armed guards were posted at all entrances to Puyallup, and given authority to shoot any Tacoman who attempted to enter the valley.  Both Tacoma and Seattle residents suffered, but the “quarantined” valley was uninfected by the disease.


Hops were the biggest cash crop in the valley.


Influenced by Tacoma, Puyallup expels its Chinese residents.

Also – The City of Puyallup is incorporated, although this incorporation is declared illegal in 1889 when Washington became a state.

Also – ~ The first wedding was performed in Puyallup on Jan. 10th.


The Central School was established.


Washington is admitted to the Union as the 42nd state in 1889. The black walnut tree at 705 7th. St. N.W. was planted to commemorate Washington’s statehood.


Ezra and Eliza Meeker move into the Meeker Mansion.
Also – Ezra Meeker was elected the first Mayor.
Also – Puyallup High School founded.
And – An Electric railway begain operation between Puyallup and Tacoma.

Puyallup now had 900 citizens, three churches, a sawmill, fruit cannery, shingle factory and four hotels.


Hop lice invaded the valley’s hop crop.  The near complete loss of the hop harvest devastated the area’s economy.

*did you know?*  The Puyallup River was the boundary between Pierce County and King County!


Washington State College established an agricultural research station on what had been the Ross homestead.


The Valley Fair Association was formed.  The first fair was held from October 5 to October 8 on a vacant lot just west of Pioneer Park.

Also –  The Tacoma Electric Railway was making 14 train trips between Puyallup and Tacoma daily.


Puyallup & Sumner Fruit Growers Association was formed to find and develop markets for the valley’s berry crops.  Exports during 1902 included $100,000 in berries, and $500,000 in hops.


Puyallup’s Statistics in 1904.  Population is 3507.  There are 4 schools with 19 teachers.  There are 14 miles of grades streets. Puyallup applies to the Carnegie foundation for money to build a library.


Simultaneous outbreaks of typhoid fever, rheumatic fever and smallpox, strike Puyallup.  Health officer Dr. Karshner recommends Puyallup improve sanitary conditions through regular collection of household garbage.


Dr. Karshner brings first automobile to Puyallup.


Army Corps of Engineers dredges the Puyallup River to further straighten it’s course through the valley.


Home delivery of mail started in Puyallup and all street names were changed to numbers.


William Paulhamus comes back from San Francisco with the recipe for scones.


The first self-service grocery store arrives in Puyallup.


The City purchases the Opera House and renovates it to serve as the City Hall and the Fire Department.

Grayland Park was a major tourist camp.


The first daffodil teas were held.  This was the forerunner of the daffodil festival and parade.

Also – The Liberty Theater is built.
Also – The statue of Ezra Meeker was dedicated in Pioneer Park.


Ezra Meeker dies at the Frye Hotel (room 412) in Seattle.


Concrete levies along river banks constructed.


The official beginning of the Daffodil Parade.


The first Meeker Days celebration was held.


Camp Harmony, Japanese internment camp at Western Washington Fair, was established.  The camp held 7390 people. (now known as the Washington State Fair)

July 1948

Puyallup stayed home while canvassers went door to door collecting $19,000 to build the Memorial Community Center, to honor those citizens serving in WWII.


Memorial Community Center opens.


The Puyallup Fair’s major fire.