DuPont Walking Tour
Visit each of the interpretive signs in DuPont to learn the town's history.
This park was named for Mayor John Iafrati and his wife Ruth. The couple made numerous contributions to the community, and John served two terms as mayor from 1969 to 1972 and 1976 to 1979. The Park is located on 120 Barksdale Ave in front of the DuPont Company Managers' house. In 1866, the first school building in DuPont opened on land within current Iafrati Park. There is a stone monument dedicated to the school as well as a picnic area in the park.
Next to the DuPont Museum is a Narrow Gauge train used by the DuPont Company. The train was used to transport dynamite to and from the plant and the wharf. After the closure of the plant, the Plymouth engine was stored on Ft. Lewis while a canopy was built by the museum. Former Sen. Mike Carrell (2004-2012) played a pivotal role in raising the money for the canopy.
Hudson’s Bay Company employees beginning in 1843, planted the Heirloom orchard on the edge of Edmonds Marsh. Approximately 13 original apple, pear and plum thickets are still alive. In 2016 cuttings from these trees were planted in a new orchard behind the 1843 Fort Nisqually site in an effort to preserve these varieties.
In the 1980s while Weyerhaeuser was moving dirt to build Northwest Landing, a number of unmarked graves were uncovered: including Native Americans, Hudson’s Bay Company, and Puget Sound Agricultural Company personnel. This New Sequalitchew Cemetery, adjacent to the 1843 Fort Nisqually site, was created to receive these unknown remains. Four unknown Native American graves and seven European graves are located in the New Seqaualitchew Cemetery.
In 1843 the decision was made to move the 1833 Fort Nisqually site inland about a mile on the banks of Sequalitchew Creek which provided a freshwater supply. In 1838, with the decline of the need for furs, the HBC shifted more into farming with the creation of the subsidiary called the Puget Sound Agricultural Company. In 1846, the Oregon Treaty was signed, giving the United States rights to the land south of the 49th parallel. After lengthy negotiations, in 1869 the U.S. government paid a settlement of $650,000 to the Hudson's Bay Company for its holdings, closing Fort Nisqually in 1870.
DuPont's fire department was originally manned by young boys owing to the employment of all able-bodied men at the plant, which was a mile away from most homes. In response, the boys of DuPont were tasked to be the first responders for fires in the town. With ages ranging from 7 to 12, DuPont Fire Company No. 11 was declared the youngest fire department in the U.S. in 1924. For many years until the department was staffed by men, the boys used a hose reel cart and attached it to a hydrant to fight the fire. The actions of the boys helped to mitigate the emergency until men from the plant arrived to assist. In honor of this history, a restored hose reel cart and shed used by the original department are located here at the modern fire station.
Before the arrival of the Hudson’s Bay Company, the Sequalitchew Tribe inhabited the area for thousands of years. They get their name from the Sequalitchew Creek and they built their village at the mouth of the river. The first recorded Chief was La-ha-let who earned the trust of the HBC men and served as an interpreter.
The narrow gauge train bed ran alongside the Sequalitchew Creek carrying dynamite and black powder down to the DuPont Wharf to be shipped out and returning with materials and supplies for the plant. Completed in 1909, the wharf was 300 feet long, 200 feet deep, and had 2 storehouses. The old train bed is now one of the most used trails in the city. Remnants of the narrow gauge tracks can be seen at the end of the trail.
The Nisqually Prairie was the sight of the original 1833 Fort Nisqually. The Hudson’s Bay employees regarded the area for its beauty. It is not a natural prairie, however, the land was purposely burned by the Sequalitchew Tribe to create a prairie environment that offered a wider variety of resources than those typically found in the area.
Chief Leschi Park, named for Chief Leschi a Nisqually leader, is the largest park in DuPont, WA Hoffman Hills housing development. Chief Leschi, along with his brother Quiemuth, led the Nisqually Tribe warriors to war in 1855 over the need for better reservation land. Leschi was accused of killing a militiaman and after several trials was hung on February 19, 1858. Many people, including U.S. Army officers at Fort Steilacoom, felt he was innocent. In 2004, a special historical court retried Leschi and exonerated him on the charge of murder.
In 1976, the DuPont Company sold their land to the Weyerhaeuser Company who initially had plans to develop a deep water port. When those plans fell through it was decided they would build a planned community called Northwest Landing. This new town was built under a New Urbanist model that focused on walking paths and a trail system easy to navigate.
Ross Plaza is named for Scotsman Charles Ross Jr. who was a farmer for the Puget Sound Agricultural Company. The park has a memorial to Wilburn Ross, a World War 2 veteran, who received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions. The Plaza also has the City of DuPont Global War on Terrorism Memorial to honor all of the DuPont residents who have fallen in action.