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Population Growth in the Pnget Sound Region ÜABL II. MAPES Lincoln lililí School, Seattle, Washington Acting upon the suggestion of an English geographer that ninetynine percent of geography can be expressed in maps, a series of seven dot and circle maps has been prepared to show the growth of Puget Sound cities by census decades from 1870 to 1930. The remarks that follow represent an attempt to evaluate some of the geographic conditions that help to explain the facts thus illustrated. Old Fort Nisqually, the first white settlement on Puget Sound, was established by the Hudson's .Bay Fur Co. as an agricultural station and transfer point in 1833. The permanent occupation of the region began a few years later, however, through the expansion of American !settlement northward from the Willamette Valley. Turnwater , at the head of Budd's Inlet where the eighty-five foot fall of the Deschutes River within three hundred feet provided power for a mill site, was settled in 1845. From this location contact with the Columbia River settlements was relatively oasy by way of the numerous prairies and the Cowlitz River. Fertile prairies nearby encouraged subsistence agriculture, difficult elsewhere along the heavily wooded shores of the Sound. The equivalent of a cash crop existed in hand-split shingles from straight grained Western Red Cedar which could be exchanged for supplies at the Hudson's Bay Co. store at Fort Nisqually. Once the westward moving wave of American settlement had reached Puget Sound, it spread rapidly along the shores of this great water highway. News of the discovery of gold in California came by boat in 1848 and almost depopulated the struggling settlements. A territorial census taken in 1849 showed 304 people in all Oregon north of the Columbia River, only 189 of whom were American citizens . By 1851 many of the original settlers had returned from the gold fields bringing with them not only increased capital and new recruits , but what was more valuable , the knowledge that San Francisco offered a ready market for the timber and agricultural products of the Sound Region. The federal census of 1850 had already reflected this return, a total of 1,111 persons being counted north of the Columbia. The decade from 1850 to 1860 was the pioneer period of settlement in the Puget Sound Region. The economic possibilities of the Sound littoral were thoroughly investigated and their development begun. By 1855 there were sixteen saw-mills in operation at widely Bcattered locations; crews of men at work getting out logs, piles and ship's spars along the water's edge; coal had been discovered at several easily accessible locations and was soon being shipped in small quantities to California; in fact, the economic life of the region was well established. By 1860 there were 11,000 people in Washington Territory, about half of whom were located in the Sound region. The development of towns proceeded slowly during the next two decades. The census of 1870 shows only two cities with a population (15) over 1,000, namely, Olympia and Seattle with about 1,200 people each. A dozen smaller mill towns with from 100 to 300 inhabitants were scattered along the shores. By 1880 one more city, Tacoma, had acquired a population of 1,000. Olympia had added only 29 inhabitants , while Seattle was already showing the potentialities of its more central location by having tripled in size during the decade. The total population of the region had reached 25,000. Active logging operations had been extended to all parts of the Sound, and fertile alluvial lowlands of the Puyallup , White and Snohomish valleys were rapidly being cleared of their timber and placed under cultivation . The map of Puget Sound cities in 1890 reveals the complex nature of our problems. Instead of the three cities of 1880, the largest of which had only 3,500 inhabitants, we find nine cities over 1,000, two of which have passed the 35,000 mark; one new entry has exceeded 8,000 and two others have more than 4,500 each. The total population had increased in ten years from about 25,000 to over 180,000 and the percent of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1551-3211
Print ISSN
0066-9628
Pages
pp. 15-18
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
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