History

On Nov. 5, 1918, voters in Pierce County approved the formation of a public port.

The rest is history.

The Port of Tacoma this year welcomes the community to join with its employees, alumni, customers, neighbors, family members and friends to celebrate this history and the ties that bind Pierce County to the rest of the world.

The celebration will officially launch with Maritime Fest the last weekend in July and run approximately 100 days through the week of Nov. 5.

Track port centennial events by looking for our special logo, and follow @PortofTacoma on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to be part of the excitement.

Pierce County voters established the Port of Tacoma Nov. 5, 1918, and elected our first three commissioners: Chester Thorne, a banker; Edward Kloss, a longshore official; and C.W. Orton, a fruit and dairy farmer.

In the late 1800s, shipping and the railroads led to the development of various private docks and facilities in Steilacoom, along Ruston Way and in Old Town Tacoma.

We started out on 240 acres of land in the Tacoma Tideflats. The Edmore, a commercial steamship that arrived March 25, 1921, to pick up lumber bound for Japan, was the first vessel to call at the port.

Over the years, more and more shipping activity shifted from the downtown Tacoma waterfront into the port industrial area.

Today, the port covers more than 2,700 acres in the port industrial area, creating more than 29,000 jobs and nearly $3 billion in economic activity.

Under our partnership with the Port of Seattle as The Northwest Seaport Alliance, we are the fourth-largest container gateway in North America and a major gateway for trade with Asia and Alaska.

Read more milestones on our timeline:

Share your port story

We are accepting stories and photos of the people who made the Port of Tacoma what it is over the past 100 years. Add your story to our historical timeline. 


Learn more

Find additional information about our history at historylink.org.