Most significant events in the county’s history

September 18th, 2020 by Ken

A couple of decades ago, I pulled out an old survey I had taken among local historians, to consolidate their accumulated wisdom and determine what happened in the last decade of the 20th Century to make Thurston County what it had become today.  I chose 1950 as the base line and as recently as 20 years ago added a few new ones.

I began reviewing it a while ago because I have been asked to be a speaker at the Lacey Historical Museum’s History Talk Series.   I have asked other local history buffs for some ideas to help me update the survey and have taken their suggestions under review.

In this post, I will mention the events with a few short comments, but will not go into detail as to why they have been put into the “Significant” category.  That will be saved for my talk which is scheduled for December.  The events have been put into some order from most significant to lesser so.

Lawsuit retaining state agencies –  A Supreme Court order  in 1953 which brought the headquarters of all state agencies back to Olympia.

Construction of the Interstate Highway – Original plans called for the freeway to bypass Olympia completely.

Creation of The Evergreen State College – For better or ill, there are now approximately 30,000 “Greeners” roaming the world and Thurston County.

Organization of the Thurston Regional Planning Council –  There are now more than 20  regional boards and commissions which control government in Thurston County.

The War on Terror –  The military buildup at Ft. Lewis following 9/11 turned the area into a military community.  (This is my newest addition to the list)

Opening of South Sound Center – Eliminated downtown Olympia as a major shopping area and created the City of Lacey.

Decline of local media – Technology eliminated many sources of information and the monopoly once claimed by “The Olympian.”

The 1984 Olympic Women’s Marathon Trials –  Put Olympia and Thurston County on the national map and demonstrated the ability of volunteers.

The 1949, 1965, and 2001 Earthquakes – remind us occasionally that we live on the  Rim of Fire

Closure of the Olympia Brewery –  Took away jobs and a community icon and created an eyesore.

Lesser events include saving the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge, building the LOTT reclaimed water facility, opening of Panorama City, and the adoption of the Optional Municipal Code by the cities of Olympia and Lacey.

Feel free to add or argue.



Posted in History

(comments are closed).