1880-1900: Where the sails meet the rails
Nicholas DeLin capitalized on Tacoma's naturally deep harbor and rich forestry resources when he opened a lumber mill on the Tideflats in 1852. The first cargo shipped by the mill was carried to San Francisco in the brig George Emory in 1853.Center for tradeIn 1873, the Northern Pacific Railroad chose Tacoma as the western terminus of its transcontinental line. It was a major milestone to establishing Tacoma as a center for trade.
Tacoma was picked over cities such as Seattle and Port Townsend because:
Major tea portIn addition to building its strong reputation for handling lumber, wheat, coal, and grain, Commencement Bay also became known as one of the largest ports of entry for tea from the Orient. The first cargo of tea arrived in Tacoma on the Isabel in 1885, just one year after the City of Tacoma was officially established.
Tacoma's growthTacoma's growth was also spurred in 1887 when Northern Pacific Railroad's Cascade line over Stampede Pass was completed. Tacoma's population went from 7,000 in 1885 to 36,000 in 1890.
Early shipping activityMuch of Tacoma's early shipping activity was concentrated around "Old Tacoma" and docks and rails stretching along Tacoma's Ruston Way area.
The Port through the decades: