Exploring the Duwamish River | Tukwila’s Story

The Duwamish River has been the center of activity in our region for thousands of years and is the only river in the city limits of Seattle.

  • Wednesday, January 18, 2017 9:30am
  • Life

By Louise Jones-Brown

Tukwila Historical Society

The Duwamish River has been the center of activity in our region for thousands of years and is the only river in the city limits of Seattle. Duwamish people settled in the area and used the river as their highway to their food and homes. There were many sources of food including shellfish, salmon, wild berries and nuts. The hazelnut trees were plentiful along the banks of the Duwamish. The word “Tukwila” is a loose translation of the local native language that means the place where the hazelnuts grow. Tukwila adopted the city logo as a cluster of hazelnuts.

People travel over and near the Duwamish River without realizing that this area was sparsely populated until the mid-1850s with the arrival of pioneer settlers. The river received a major change in the early 1900s with the dredging of a waterway. Nearly half of the original winding course of the river was filled in with the salty soil which had a negative effect on the farms that had been established along the banks to the south of Seattle.

The industrialization of the area along the Duwamish Waterway lead to development of large manufacturing plants and uncontrolled pollution of this river. A recently published book, “Once and Future River: Reclaiming the Duwamish,” by local journalist and photographer Tom Reese with essays by Eric Wagner features photos taken on and near the river. The Tukwila Historical Society hosted an event on Dec. 10 with a slideshow and informative question and answer session with Reese and Wagner. It was enjoyed by everyone in attendance, and copies of the book were available for purchase.

The Tukwila Historical Society is proud to announce an encore presentation of the book and slideshow on Saturday, April 15. This fundraising event will be at the Odin Brewing Company, 402 Baker Blvd. in Tukwila, from 6 to 10 p.m. There is limited space available and tickets will be available after Feb. 1. Contact the historical society at 206-244-4478 or by email at tukwilahistsociety@tukwilahistory.org for more information.

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