Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

Part of our in-depth series exploring the Mountain Pacific Forts

Picture of Fort Nisqually

Fort Nisqually
5400 North Pearl Street #11
Tacoma, WA 98407 USA
Phone: 253-591-5339
[email protected]

Fort Nisqually was the first European settlement on Puget Sound. The Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) of London, a vast fur trading enterprise chartered by King Charles of England in 1670, established it in 1833. The original site was on the beach and plains above the Nisqually River delta in the present town of DuPont, Washington. Today Fort Nisqually, including two of the original buildings, is located inside Tacoma's Point Defiance Park. Fort Nisqually is owned and operated as a historic site by Metro Parks of Tacoma.

Fort Nisqually was operated and served by Scottish gentlemen, Native Americans, Kanakas (Hawaiians), French-Canadians, West Indians, Englishmen and American settlers. Gradually, Fort Nisqually grew from a remote outpost to a major international trading establishment. A subsidiary, the Puget Sound's Agricultural Company, was formed to establish new sources of revenue for the HBC. Soon Fort Nisqually was producing crops and livestock for local consumption and export to Russian America, Hawaii, Spanish California, Europe and Asia. Native Americans were welcomed at Fort Nisqually as friends, customers, fur traders, farm and livestock employees, and even as spouses!

Fort Nisqually never had a military purpose, but the palisade does resemble some frontier army stockades. It was only occasionally visited by American and British military personnel during its active years. The 1846 treaty between the United States and Great Britain established the boundary between the two country's claims at the 49th parallel. This treaty left Fort Nisqually on American soil. With fur trade profits declining, increasing competition from American settlers, and mounting harassment from American revenue agents and tax collectors, Fort Nisqually was closed in 1869. The United States government, under the 1846 treaty agreement, paid the HBC $650,000 for Fort Nisqually and the Puget Sound Agriculture Company lands.

One hundred years after construction and 65 years after closing, major efforts were undertaken to preserve the few remaining structures. Only the Factor's House and the Granary had avoided disrepair and decay. Civic minded citizens moved those two historic buildings and re-created several others to present Fort Nisqually as it was in 1855.

Today Fort Nisqually hosts 90,000 visitors annually at a beautifully restored site. Seven structures are open when trained staff are present during the summer months and during living history events. The Factor's House is currently being restored to original 1855 conditions, when the building was brand new. Artifacts of the era are being collected for display. The small museum is open, as is the gift shop. The Granary, the oldest building on Puget Sound, is open. The Blacksmith shop and the laborer's dwelling house are historically accurate. Living history re-enactors are often available for interpretation of the detailed history of Fort Nisqually.

The current Capital Campaign will soon allow construction of a new Men's Dwelling House, staff offices, a research library, and curatorial storage rooms.

Fort Nisqually stands as a memorial to the servants of the "Honorable Company of Gentlemen out of Hudson's Bay" who risked their hides for skins in the Pacific Northwest. Please come to visit Historic Fort Nisqually for a World-Class adventure into your past.

Hours of Operation (Fort Nisqually Living History Museum)

Friday through Sunday (11am - 4pm). Call for up to date information (253) 591-5339

Communities and Related Links
Fort Nisqually Web Site
Seattle Visitor Information
Puget Sound

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