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Steilacoom, Washington facts for kids

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Steilacoom, Washington
Location of Steilacoom, Washington
Location of Steilacoom, Washington
Country United States
State Washington
County Pierce
 • Total 2.05 sq mi (5.31 km2)
 • Land 2.01 sq mi (5.21 km2)
 • Water 0.04 sq mi (0.11 km2)
75 ft (23 m)
 • Total 5,985
 • Estimate 
 • Density 3,177.52/sq mi (1,226.75/km2)
Time zone UTC-8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
Area code 253
FIPS code 53-67770
GNIS feature ID 1508718

Steilacoom is a town in Pierce County, Washington, United States. The population was 6,270 at the 2010 census. Steilacoom incorporated in 1854 and became the first incorporated town in what is now the state of Washington. It has also become a bedroom community for service members stationed at Joint Base Lewis–McChord.

Based on per capita income, Steilacoom ranks 61st of 522 areas ranked in the state of Washington.


The origin of the name "Steilacoom" is unclear. According to the Legacy Washington program, the town’s name is derived from an Indian word meaning “little pink flower.” Another version is that it was named by fur traders with the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) and is an adaptation of Tail-a-Koom, the name of an Indian chief. In 1824 HBC chief factor John Work called it "Chilacoom". Another early spelling was "Chelakom". The Town of Steilacoom says it was named after the Steilacoom tribe, especially their main village in the Tacoma area, located on Chambers Bay. This village was called Scht’ləqʷəm, later anglicized as Steilacoom. William Bright says the name comes from the Southern Coast Salish subgroup /č'tílqʷəbš/, anglicized as "Steilacoom".

European-American settlement at Steilacoom was founded by Lafayette Balch, a sea captain from Maine, and it was officially incorporated in 1854. It is the oldest incorporated town in Washington. It has four individual buildings and sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the oldest Catholic Church in the state and the first Protestant Church north of the Columbia River, as well as the Steilacoom Historic District, with 68 contributing properties.

Steilacoom's main source of early prosperity was the processing and export of lumber to San Francisco. When the United States Congress established the Washington Territory on March 2, 1853, Governor Isaac Stevens chose Steilacoom as the seat of Pierce County.

Steilacoom had the first jail in Washington and the first sawmill. The City of Lakewood has developed next to it, and the city is home to one of the two major state-run mental health facilities, Western State Hospital, on the site of what was once Fort Steilacoom.


Steilacoom, WA - Steilacoom Tribal Cultural Center 02
Steilacoom Tribal Cultural Center and Museum, a former church on Lafayette Street.


Steilacoom is located at 47°10′12″N 122°35′40″W / 47.17000°N 122.59444°W / 47.17000; -122.59444 (47.170019, -122.594349).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.07 square miles (5.36 km2), of which, 2.04 square miles (5.28 km2) is land and 0.03 square miles (0.08 km2) is water.


There are no state highways in Steilacoom. Drivers can access Interstate 5 or State Route 512 by driving through the adjacent city of Lakewood.

BNSF operates a railroad running along Steilacoom's shoreline, with the Union Pacific Railroad having trackage rights on this line as well. However, there is no station in the city and passenger trains do not stop there. Passenger service to the city ended in 1971. With the November 18, 2021 opening of the Point Defiance bypass route, Amtrak passenger service is now on an inland line from Tacoma through South Tacoma, Lakewood and DuPont, essentially parallel to Interstate 5. With this new route in operation, Steilacoom's rail line is now for freight only.

Pierce County maintains a Steilacoom-Anderson Island Ferry which departs from Steilacoom and serves Anderson and Ketron islands.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 250
1890 270 8.0%
1900 284 5.2%
1910 430 51.4%
1920 564 31.2%
1930 722 28.0%
1940 832 15.2%
1950 1,233 48.2%
1960 1,569 27.3%
1970 2,850 81.6%
1980 4,886 71.4%
1990 5,728 17.2%
2000 6,049 5.6%
2010 5,985 −1.1%
2019 (est.) 6,390 6.8%
U.S. Decennial Census
2015 Estimate

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 5,985 people, 2,559 households, and 1,715 families residing in the town. The population density was 2,933.8 inhabitants per square mile (1,132.7/km2).[contradictory] There were 2,793 housing units at an average density of 1,369.1 per square mile (528.6/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 77.1% White, 4.7% African American, 0.7% Native American, 7.3% Asian, 1.4% Pacific Islander, 1.5% from other races, and 7.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.7% of the population.

There were 2,559 households, of which 26.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.3% were married couples living together, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.5% had a male householder with no wife present, and 33.0% were non-families. 26.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.79.

The median age in the town was 42.4 years. 20.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.2% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.5% were from 25 to 44; 29.6% were from 45 to 64; and 17.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 48.3% male and 51.7% female.


Public schools are operated by the Steilacoom Historical School District #1, which was first established in 1854.

Notable residents

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