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40 Years of History at the Olympia Farmers Market

  By Emmett O’Connell The Olympia Farmers Market has held an important place in the Olympia community landscape for the past 40 years. As the market’s season opens this year, it will be celebrating its fourth decade in existence. But, the history of markets where local farmers sell direct to the public have a much longer […]

A Historic Look at the Various Locations of the Thurston County Courthouse

  By Emmett O’Connell Up until the last forty years, the Thurston County Courthouse has always been located in what people would know as “downtown Olympia.” While our definition of the space considered “downtown” has expanded over time, the courthouse has moved slowly away from the downtown core since the 1930s. The first site for what […]

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Olympia Loves a Parade – Well, Mostly

  Submitted by Deborah Jane Ross, Research Coordinator, Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum Parades, processions, and protest marches – Olympia’s citizenry has seen them all. Mostly, we enjoy them; sometimes we ignore them; and occasionally they make us nervous or angry. A political march during Legislative Session may cause our city’s jaded citizens […]

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The Force Is With Us: “Star Wars” First Shown in Olympia in 1977

  By Jennifer Crooks Most everyone these days has heard of “Star Wars,” the science fiction cinema phenomenon. The Star Wars epic has influenced popular culture and society from its inception in 1977. However, the premiere of the first “Star Wars” movie (later retitled “Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope”) in Olympia is not […]

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Was It Really the Water in Olympia’s First Brewery?

  By Emmett O’Connell The story of Olympia’s first ever brewery and first ever locally brewed beer is a great illustration about how the waves of history can make landfall in several corners of a community. Isaac Wood was an early pioneer of the area east of Olympia that eventually became Lacey, taking a land […]

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Olympia’s Lost Railroads – A Historic Look Back at the Railroads that Bisect the City’s History

  By Emmett O’Connell There are at least three different railroads that at one time or another transected Olympia, but are now gone. Each railroad bisects the history of Olympia and the region in interesting ways, showing how the waves of development crested and receded on our town. Like my other recent piece on the […]

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Rebecca Howard: An African-American Businesswoman in Early Olympia

  By Jennifer Crooks Rebecca Howard is one of the most famous women to have lived in early Olympia. Although information on her is limited, she clearly lived a fascinating life. As an African American woman in the late mid-nineteenth century, she faced great prejudice and racism. In spite of this, she became a successful […]

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A Woman With Heart: Emma Page and Animal Rights

  By Jennifer Crooks Emma Page, though she lived in Olympia for only a few short decades, is perhaps Olympia’s best known animal rights activist. Although blinded at the age of seven as the result of an accident, undaunted, she lived a very active life. A music teacher, author, ordained minister (First Christian Church of […]

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Bring Your Skates: Ice Skating in Early Thurston County

  By Jennifer Crooks Ice skating is a favorite activity usually associated with winter. There is nothing quite as exhilarating as gliding around on the ice, weightless and free—or at least trying to. A moderate climate and the nonexistence of indoor facilities in early Thurston County made wintertime ice skating a rare, outdoors, community activity—one […]

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History of the Railroad Lines that Cross Through Olympia

  By Emmett O’Connell Throughout Olympia’s history, railroads have crisscrossed the city’s landscape. As James Hannum notes in “Olympia’s Railroad History,” (an essay in the People’s History of Olympia) at various points in our city’s history, we hosted three “common carrier” lines, two logging railroads and a trolley line. Of those, two lines remain – […]

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