Place Names N-P

The Narrows are a water passage separating the upper and lower Puget Sound south of Point Defiance. It was named by the Wilkes Expedition of 1841. The Narrows are crossed by the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and the power transmission lines of Tacoma City Light's Cushman project. It is often called the Tacoma Narrows for its location. It was once considered the dividing line between Admiralty Inlet and Puget Sound.

New Amsterdam
This settlement on Anderson Island was owned by the Netherlands American Manufacturing Company in 1924. The 1965 Metsker Atlas called that part of Drayton Passage at this location New Amsterdam Bay. The current Metsker Map of the County named the community New Amsterdam and the inlet Amsterdam Bay.

Several geographical features including a river, a glacier, and a valley are named Nisqually. The journal of John Work, a longtime Hudson's Bay Company employee, first mentions it as a geographical point. One source reports the name to be an "....Indian adaptation of the French Canadian servants of the Hudson's Bay Company who called the Indians Nez Carre."

Henry Sicade wrote that "squally" was the name of his tribe of Indians and that the word meant "...the tops and flowers of various roots and herbs which come up or grow annually...these tops grew thick every spring and the sight was quite beautiful to behold, especially when the wind blew and caused a wavy motion."

T.T. Waterman reported that the name came from "Tusqwele" which meant "late," referring to a later running of salmon up the Nisqually River than other nearby streams.

Nisqually Bottoms
The rich farmland on the floor of the Nisqually Valley were called Nisqually Bottoms on Squally Bottoms by the settlers of the 1840s and 1850s. Changes in the course of the Nisqually River through flooding have washed much of the rich soil into Puget Sound.

Nisqually Reach
Nisqually Reach is that part of Puget Sound immediately north of the mouth of the Nisqually River and the Nisqually Flats. The area is divided between Pierce and Thurston Counties and serves as the main shipping route to the south Sound. Anderson Island is on the north side of Nisqually Reach.

This residential area north of Lake Steilacoom and west of Phillips Road was developed by the Hewitt Land company and its successors. The large number of native oak trees on the table land above Chambers Creek accounts for the name. It was part of Garrison Plain, named for the U.S. Army garrison stationed at Fort Steilacoom from 1849 to 1868.

One of five communities in the present Lakewood area of the county was named Oakdale. It was listed on Whitney’s map of the 1890 City of Tacoma and Environs as compiled by Frederick G. Plummer and was located south of Gravelly Lake and east of American Lake. The other locations were Custer, Lake View, Lake City, and Steilacoom. One of the major issues raised by the Hudson's Bay Company in their land claim against the United States government was the value of the many oak trees on the prairie lands surrounding the lakes. The Hudson's Bay Company claimed that the great value of each tree raised the dollar amount of their claim considerably.

Old Fort Lake
A small lake west of the DuPont site of Fort Nisqually, after it was moved from tidewater, is named Old Fort Lake. The lake was on the property owned by the DuPont Company until sold to the Weyerhaeuser Corporation in 1976. Edward Huggins wrote that the lake once supported a colony of turtles.

Old Military Road
Fort Walla Walla
In Pierce County there are three military roads. The Fort Walla Walla route ran from Fort Steilacoom through present Ponders, McChord and eastward to McMillan, and then north to Elhi Hill to Buckley. It then followed the course of the White River to the Greenwater River and up the Greenwater to Naches Pass and then into Eastern Washington.

There was some pressure in the 1970s to name the Naches Pass Trail for Ezra Meeker how crossed the mountains on the trail in the 1850s. However, the name “Naches Pass Trail” was retained by the State Board of Geographic Names.

Old Military Road
Fort Vancouver
This road ran southeastward from Fort Steilacoom, across the American Plain at present North Fort Lewis to the Nisqually River and then overland to the head of navigation of the Cowlitz River. It then traveled near present Toledo and then by river or along the river bank to Fort Vancouver. Bridges across the lower portion of the Nisqually River were often washed away by flooding, and ferries had to be used to cross the river often as far inland as Yelm.

Old Military Road
Fort Bellingham
The third road ran from Fort Steilacoom to Puyallup and north through Seattle toward Bellingham. Most of the Pierce County section of the road to Fort Bellingham is included in the Byrd Mill Road which went from Fort Steilacoom to Puyallup roughly along the line of South 84th Street and Steilacoom Boulevard. The Byrd Mill Road is also known as State Historical Road Number One.

Oro Bay
Oro bay is in the southeastern side of Anderson Island. The Inskip Chart of 1846 listed it as Rodd Bay for John R. Rodd, 1st Lieutenant of the HMS Fisgard. Admiral Fisgard, who entered the Royal Navy in 1830, became a Lieutenant in 1840, and an Admiral on the retired list in 1888.

Cyrus Happy, a prominent Tacoman, reports that Nathaniel Orr of Steilacoom, owned land on the island, may have had the bay named for him. When a number of Scandinavian families arrived a few years after Orr, the name was thought to mean "ore" which in Swedish is "oro".

Otso Point
This point is on the north end of Anderson Island. It was named by the Wilkes Expedition. Alfred Smith quoted Jerry Meeker, a prominent Puyallup Indian, who said that "otso" came from "Ot sk" which was the largest type of salt water canoe used most often in warfare. Meeker said that the site was "... adapted to the landing of the canoes ..."

Peach Acres
Peach Acres is an area north of Chambers Creek as shown on the Steilacoom Quadrangle of the U.S.G.S. Topographical Map of 1950. A large peach orchard planted by August C. Mirenta and his associates in 1939 occupied the site. After a series of cold winters during which many of the trees died, the rest were removed and the property was sold in late 1950. Dr. Mirenta, a chiropodist who died in May of 1951, was once president of the Western Washington Peach Growers Association.

It is now occupied by the campus of Charles Wright Academy. The Puget's Sound Agricultural Company's land claim at Nisqually, dated May 10, 1852, shows a sheep park at the eastern edge of Bolton Plain.

Pigeon Island
Also McNeil Island, Duntze Island
McNeil Island was named Pigeon Island by Lieutenant Peter Puget in his journal because of the pigeons he found there during explorations of the lower Puget Sound in 1792. Names recorded for locations by Puget, Menzies and others were informal and temporary. Official names were supplied by Captain George Vancouver.

Pioneer is on Puget Sound north of Steilacoom on the Burlington Northern Railway lines north of Chambers Creek. A huge gravel operation once owned by the Pioneer Sand and Gravel Company is located there. William Bolton had a shipyard nearby in the 1850s and the place was known as Boltons. The railroad siding of Glacier is between Pioneer and Chambers Creek.

The United States Geological Survey map of the Steilacoom Quadrangle dated 1981 shows Glacier to be immediately north of Chambers Creek and Pioneer to be one mile north of Glacier.

Port Nisqually
Nearly every water-side settlement on Puget Sound having a dock large enough for ocean going vessels to tie up called itself a port in the 1850s and 1860s. Huggins uses this name for the dock and Fort Nisqually for the settlement and trading post in his accounts of life and times in the early Pacific Northwest.

The Pierce County Auditor in his 1909 Annual Report credits Port Nisqually with being the "first port of entry."

Port Steilacoom
Also Steilacoom
When Lafayette Balch founded Steilacoom, he called it Port Steilacoom because it had a dock and was therefore a seaport. For a number of years it was what the Pierce County Auditor called in his 1909 annual report: "the chief commercial port on Puget Sound.”

Puget Sound
A waterway with numerous channels and branches extending ninety miles southward from the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Peter Puget, an officer in the 1792 Vancouver expedition, entered the Royal Navy in 1778 and became a rear admiral in 1821. He died in Bath, England, October 31, 1822.

Charts made in 1792 during the Vancouver exploration show that originally the name was meant to apply only to the portion of the Sound south of the Tacoma Narrows. Vancouver wrote "to commemorate Mr. Puget's exertions, the south extremity of it I named Puget's Sound." It has since been extended to mean nearly all the inland waterway of Western Washington. Puget had been assigned responsibility of surveying the Sound in May 1792, and visited nearly every part of the inland sea at that time.