The Seattle Great Wheel, located on the city's waterfront, is one of the largest Ferris wheels in the United States, standing at 175 feet tall.
Thurston County, located in the western part of Washington state, has a rich and diverse history. The area was traditionally inhabited by indigenous tribes, including the Squaxin Island Tribe and Nisqually Indian Tribe. European exploration and settlement began in the late 18th century when Spanish and British explorers mapped the region. The first permanent non-indigenous settlement, called New Market, was established in 1845 near present-day Tumwater.

In the mid-19th century, the Oregon Trail brought an influx of settlers to the region. Several settlements were established, including Olympia, which would later become the county seat. The area's abundant natural resources, such as timber and fertile land, attracted further development and growth. In 1852, Thurston County was officially created, named after Samuel R. Thurston, the Oregon Territory's first delegate to Congress.

Thurston County played an important role during the Washington Territory years. Olympia, home to the territorial capital, became the center of political and economic activity. The area witnessed significant growth with the establishment of schools, churches, and businesses. The arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad in the 1870s further contributed to the county's development, connecting it with other parts of the state and facilitating trade.

Throughout the 20th century, Thurston County continued to evolve. The state government's presence in Olympia, coupled with military installations like Joint Base Lewis-McChord, provided stability and employment opportunities for the local population. Today, the county's economy is diverse, with industries such as government, healthcare, education, and technology driving growth. Thurston County remains a vibrant and culturally diverse community, while also preserving its natural beauty and recognizing the contributions of its Native American heritage.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Thurston County, Washington.

  • 1852: Thurston County is created as one of the original counties in Washington Territory.
  • 1853: The first county courthouse is built in Olympia, the county seat.
  • 1860: Tumwater, the oldest permanent American settlement in the county, is established.
  • 1873: The Northern Pacific Railroad reaches Olympia, boosting economic growth in the region.
  • 1909: The Washington State Capitol building is completed in Olympia, becoming a prominent landmark.
  • 1926: The Olympia Brewing Company opens, becoming one of the county's largest employers until its closure in 2003.
  • 1940s-1950s: The military presence grows with the establishment of Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base.
  • 1984: Thurston County's population surpasses 200,000.
  • 1993: The Hands On Children's Museum opens its doors in Olympia, providing interactive exhibits for children.
  • 2001: The Nisqually earthquake strikes the region, causing extensive damage in Thurston County.
  • 2018: Thurston County celebrates its 166th anniversary since its establishment.