Named for the Scht'ileq'wem native people, the idyllic town of Steilacoom is located on the southeastern shores of Washington's Puget Sound. The year 1841 marked the first official American exploration of Puget Sound by Lt. Charles Wilkes and the U.S. Navy. Although the area had a U.S. Army post at Fort Steilacoom, with the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Nisqually and pioneers scattered between, it wasn't until January 1851 that Capt. Lafayette Balch founded Port Steilacoom. Just south of the new port, John B. Chapman established Steilacoom City in June of that same year. The settlements merged to form the Town of Steilacoom in 1854; it became the first incorporated town in the Washington Territory. Steilacoom's story is one of transformation from bustling city to scenic small town. With a commanding view of the Narrows Bridge, the Olympic Mountains, Key Peninsula, and South Sound islands, Steilacoom is now proudly known as the "Town of Firsts."