DuPont festival looks to the past

Hudson’s Bay Day a celebration of town’s fur-trading roots

rboone@theolympian.comAugust 26, 2013 

Some took tours of the land that was once home to Fort Nisqually. Others walked through the city and visited historic sites along the way.

Nearly 300 people attended Hudson’s Bay Day in DuPont on Sunday. And just like last year, the vacant land off Center Drive that was occupied by Fort Nisqually in 1843 remained vacant: The booths, food and live entertainment that usually set up on the site were moved across the street near the new City Hall.

That was by design, said DuPont Historical Society member Bert Wyant, because in past years the wind would pick up during the day and blow everything around.

The annual event, which is organized by the historical society and the city, may have sacrificed some authenticity by moving its attractions across the street to the Fire Department building, but everyone is more comfortable, he said.

Local historian Drew Crooks was on hand to lead tours of the Fort Nisqually site, which was established by the Hudson’s Bay Co. as a trading post. It opened in 1833 near the Nisqually River Delta, then moved in 1843 to be closer to Sequalitchew Creek, a vital water source.

A “volksmarch” intersected with the Hudson’s Bay event on Sunday, with about 135 people taking part in two walks through DuPont, said Diane Wagner of Eatonville, a member of a walking group called the Over the Hill Gang, which organized the walk.

The group is primarily from Federal Way, but the group’s founder and president is from DuPont, she said.

To enliven the walk, the historical society distributed maps to the walkers that highlighted points of interest, including landmarks left behind by the DuPont Co., the town’s namesake.

DuPont has been a company town for most of its history, beginning with the E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co., which manufactured explosives in the town for nearly 70 years.

The company also built homes to house its workers.

Then Weyerhaeuser Co. stepped in and bought land to develop Northwest Landing, a 3,000-acre, mixed-use development. Other businesses that call DuPont home include Intel and State Farm, but a new business in DuPont might set the city on yet another path.

That business is Amazon.com, which is building a massive distribution center on Center Drive, not far from the Fort Nisqually site.

DuPont Mayor Michael Grayum, who attended Hudson’s Bay Day with his family, estimated the size of the distribution center at seven football fields, and said it might employ 400 to 900 people, although employment figures are still to be determined.

“Maintaining our history is so important for us,” he said about Sunday’s event, but he also added that the city is set to “prepare for a prosperous future,” citing the Amazon development as well as future development at The Home Course — a nearby golf facility — and a new grocery store.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com

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