Place Names A-C

American Lake
Also Lake Tolmie
American Lake is north of Interstate Highway Five near Fort Lewis. The Tacoma Ledger of July 9, 1890, reports that "... it was never formally named, but on account of the American celebration of the Fourth of July in 1841 and the residence of missionaries and settlers from the United States it was called American Lake or Richmond Lake after the Methodist missionary Dr. Richmond whose wife's first name was America.”

A plat for the town of American Lake was filed April 4, 1890, by the Tacoma and Lake City Railway and Navigation Company.

American Plain
American Plain is north of Sequalitchew Lake and west of American Lake on what is now North Fort Lewis. The plain is listed as Third Division Prairie on some maps. It was named American Plain for the same reasons for the naming of American Lake.

​Amsterdam Bay
The Metsker Map of Pierce County records the inlet on the west side of Anderson Island as Amsterdam Bay and the community as New Amsterdam. The Netherlands-American Manufacturing Company owned land on the bay in 1924.

Anderson Island
Also Wallace Island and Fisgard Island
Anderson Island is located in Puget Sound opposite Nisqually Reach. It was named by the U.S. Exploring Expedition of 1841 for Alexander C. Anderson who was in charge at Fort Nisqually during the early 1840s. Anderson was cordial to Wilkes and offered "....every assistance in their power to aid...operations."

Balch Lake
Also Louise Lake
Louise Lake, east of Steilacoom, was once named Balch Lake for Lafayette Balch, the founder of Steilacoom. Captain Balch was born February 3, 1825, in Trescott, Maine. He went to sea as a young man and become captain of a ship owned by his father. He arrived at Fort Nisqually in December of 1850. After an inspection of possible town sites he decided to locate where Steilacoom is now situated. He had a home, a store, was involved in land sales, and maintained a shipping business and a portable sawmill. He died on November 25, 1862, on a business trip to San Francisco.

Balch's Cove
Also Glen Cove
This was an early name for Glen Cove which honored Lafayette Balch, the founder of Steilacoom. The firm of Balch and Webber had a portable sawmill in operation at several locations on Puget Sound for a number of years before 1862.

The Nisqually Plains were called Bau-kum by the Indians. The word means "an open place." The plain stretched from South Tacoma to Yelm and from the Nisqually River to east of Spanaway.

Bee, a settlement on the south shore of McNeil Island, was once a post office. There was an extensive apiary (beehouse) on the island when the prison was established. The main buildings of the prison are at Bee.

Anderson Island’s Betsey Cammon recorded that "... a few people were standing outside ... discussing what to name the post office when a bee buzzed by."

Bolton Plain
Bolton Plain, north of Chambers Creek, was named for William Bolton who came to the Pacific Northwest in 1849. He had a six hundred forty acre Donation Land Claim on Puget Sound south of Days Island and north of Steilacoom. He was the first ship builder in the region, producing three sixty-ton schooners. The Hudson's Bay Company had a sheep park or pasture on the plain, which is on the flat lands above Puget Sound.

The actual site of William Bolton's ship repair and building facility was on Puget Sound, north of Chambers Bay on the shoreline between Steilacoom and Days Island. The place was known as “Bolton’s” while Mr. Bolton owned the property.

Brackenridge Passage
Also Bruce Channel
Brackenridge Passage is that part of Carr Inlet in Puget Sound between Fox Island and McNeil Island. It was named by the Wilkes Expedition for William D. Brackenridge, a horticulturalist who cared for the plant specimens of the expedition. Most maps have dropped this designation.

Returning to Washington, D.C., Brackenridge set up a greenhouse. His dried plants became the nucleus of the collection of the Division of Plants of the United States National Museum.

Brickyard Point
Also Jacobs Point
This name was given to Jacobs Point on Anderson Island between Oro and East Oro Bays. Betsey Cammon wrote that Anderson Islanders called it Brickyard Point for the buildings erected on the east side of the point in 1888-89. Clay from Anderson Island was used in the 1830s for bricks at Fort Nisqually.

Bruce Channel
Also Brackenridge Passage
The Inskip map of 1846 named that part of Carr Inlet which lies between McNeil and Fox Islands’ Bruce Channel, while the Wilkes Expedition called it Brackenridge Passage.

An Anglo-Irish family, the Baronets Bruce of Downhill, had several naval officers in the family who were contemporary with Inskip. One, Admiral Henry W. Bruce, served for a number of years as the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Station of the Royal Navy. He was born February 2, 1792, and died December 14, 1862.

Butterworth Lake
Butterworth Lake was created by damming Eden Creek on McNeil Island to provide an adequate supply of water for the prison located there. Keve recorded that it was named "... after a Bureau of Prisons engineer who had been particularly helpful to the institution."

Byrd Creek
Also Steilacoom Creek, Chambers Creek
The January, 1876 term of the Pierce County Commissioners gave the name of Byrd Creek to Chambers or Steilacoom Creek when they appointed Stephen Judson to survey for a bridge across the creek. The Byrd family was prominent in local affairs. Andrew Byrd was born August 7, 1825, in Sugar Creek, Ohio, the son of Adam and Mary Houck Byrd. He traveled west with his family and filed for a Donation Land Claim at the source of the creek where he built a sawmill, a grist mill, and later a slaughterhouse.

Byrd Lake
August V. Kautz, in his personal journal, recorded that Steilacoom Lake was known as Byrd Lake because it was created from a number of marshes by the damming of Chambers Creek (later Byrd Creek) for the Byrd Mill.

Byrd Mill
Byrd Mill was located at the head of Chamber's Creek in a community known as Custer. In 1906 the area was referred to as ".... Byrd's Mill, a small town where lumber and flour were made, a store, blacksmith shop and school maintained with several families about."

Byrd Mill Road
The Byrd Mill Road ran from the agricultural areas of the Puyallup Valley to the Byrd Mill on Chambers Creek. It was used to connected the valley with Steilacoom and the milling and shipping services provided there. It followed, generally, the route of present South and East 84th Street to Steilacoom Boulevard and is known as State Historical Road Number One.

John W. McCarty, in describing life in the Bow Region of the county at present Sumner, tells wrote of the several days’ trip travel to bring wheat on the road to get to the mill. He wrote recorded that a wagon would have to be unloaded with wheat being canoed across the Puyallup River the bags of wheat would have to be unloaded from the wagon and put in canoes to cross the river. Then the wagon itself would then have to be dismantled and hauled across the river, reassembled, and reloaded for the rest of the trip to Steilacoom.

Camp Lewis
Also Fort Lewis
The Federal Government established this permanent military camp, complete with post office, in 1917. In 1927, the name was changed to Fort Lewis.

Chambers Creek
Also Steilacoom Creek, Byrd Creek, or Heath Creek
Chambers Creek flows from Lake Steilacoom to Puget Sound. Thomas M. Chambers built the first saw mill on the creek in 1852 had a home on the south side of the creek near its mouth.

Some maps call the upper course of the creek to its confluence with Leach Creek Steilacoom Creek. The Inskip chart of 1846 calls the creek the Chudley River. It was also known as Byrd Creek for the Byrd Mill once located where the creek leaves Lake Steilacoom.

Joseph Thomas Heath, who lived where Fort Steilacoom was later built, called the creek the Steilacoom River in his journal while other writers have called the creek Heath Creek for Mr. Heath. (Heath, p. 65).

Clover Creek
Clover Creek is a stream that empties into Lake Steilacoom. It was named by Christopher Mahon, an early settler"...because wild clover was so abundant along the creek." The creek carries the waters of Spanaway Lake into Lake Steilacoom as well as draining a large area of Parkland. It once joined Ponce de Leon Creek but its course was changed by an early developer.

Del McBride wrote that local Indians called the creek Ta-ayakw'tz, which means "alders."

​The Coe
Also Sequalitchew Creek
William F. Tolmie referred to Sequalitchew Creek as Coe or The Coe in his journals. The word is Nisqually in origin and means "water."

Also Gravelly Lake
Henry Sicade, who was adopted into the Puyallup Indian Tribe, wrote that Gravelly Lake was called Cook-al-chy by the Indians. The name means “pond lily.”

Cormorant Passage
Cormorant Passage, between Ketron Island and Steilacoom, was named for the Paddle Sloop HMS Cormorant, which was at Fort Nisqually between 1844 and 1850. It was the first naval steam vessel on Puget Sound.

A drawing of the Cormorant ramming a log boom at Tauku, China, on May 20, 1858, is reproduced in Ivan Donnelly's book The China Coast. Donnelly wrote that in 1928 the wreck of the Cormorant was located, and one mast was recovered and taken to the Royal Naval Museum at Greenwich, England.

Curry Woods
Curry Woods is the name given to that portion of the forest on the Military Reservation at Fort Lewis south of the town of Steilacoom near Farrell Marsh. Charles R. Curry was a bugler in Company D of the 361st Infantry who was killed during World War One.