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History



Fort Nisqually was the first European settlement on Puget Sound. Established in 1833 by the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), the original site was on the beach and plains above the Nisqually River delta in the present town of DuPont, Washington.

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. The fort's multicultural work force consisted of employees from Scotland, England, Ireland, Orkney Islands, the Hawaiian Islands, as well as French-Canadians, Americans and Native Americans.

When Fort Nisqually was established in 1833, the land that became Washington and Oregon  was jointly occupied by Americans and British of the Hudson's Bay Company. Thirteen years later, in 1846, a treaty between the United States and Great Britain established the boundary between the two country's claims at the 49th parallel - today's border between the United States and Canada. 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.

At that time, Fort Nisqually's last Clerk, Edward Huggins, decided to leave his employment with the Hudson's Bay Company to become an American citizen. He placed a homestead claim on the property around Fort Nisqually and it became his family home. The Huggins family owned the property until 1904 when it was sold to the DuPont Company.

In 1933, one hundred years after Fort Nisqually's construction, major efforts were undertaken to preserve the fort's few remaining structures. Only the Factor's House and the Granary had avoided disrepair and decay. Civic minded citizens led by the Young Businessmen's Club of Tacoma, saved those two historic buildings and relocated them to a recently cleared location in Tacoma's Point Defiance Park and re-created several others to present Fort Nisqually as it was in 1855.. 

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. Today, museum guests may engage with history by getting involved in the living history activities that are being demonstrated in the fort.  Living history interpreters, dressed in period clothing, will guide you through your experience.  The seasonal activities may include feeding the chickens, weeding the kitchen garden, threshing wheat, or even playing heritage games.  Stop by today and see what life in the 19th Century awaits you.  

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