Meteor startled city's founder

Following are passages and paraphrases from the Sept. 16, 1859, edition of the Pioneer & Democrat.

Mr. William Walter, writing to the Steilacoom Herald from Swamish (now Mason) County, said, “Yesterday our neighborhood was startled with hearing and feeling a dreadful loud report, such as a large cannon nearby. I was in the field at the time, and went to the house where Mr. Krise was, who said that it shook the house. I called on Colonel (Michael T.) Simmons, who said that it was a meteor; that two Indians in his employ saw it fly and burst. They came to his house very much alarmed.”

Michael T. Simmons was the first white man in the area, founding Tumwater. He later became a special Indian agent for the Territory, appointed by Gov. Stevens, and took part in many of the Indian treaties, often as interpreter of the Chinook jargon.

The United States, still growing and becoming a world power, boasted some accomplishments in the Pioneer & Democrat. “The Illinois Central RR is the longest line ever constructed by one company, equal to any European Road.

“The National Road over the Cumberland Mountains built by US Engineer Corps, is more extensive and durable by far than the Appian Way. The US Dry-dock at Brooklyn is the largest dry-dock in the world.

“The railroad suspension bridge over the Niagara, is within a few feet of twice the span of the great Tubular Bridge in England.”

South Sound historian Roger Easton can be reached at rogereaston@comcast.net.

Sesquicentennial celebration

This marks the 35th weekly installment in a yearlong series looking back at life in newly incorporated Olympia 150 years ago this week. The Olympian has teamed up with South Sound historian Roger Easton on this feature celebrating the city’s 150th birthday, relying on newspaper articles from the Pioneer & Democrat, town council minutes and other historical records.