Don't miss Tacoma's 26th Maritime Fest July 27 & 28, 2019

Tacoma’s waterfront defines our past, present and future

By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index

Unlike most other cities, Tacoma doesn’t have a singularly defined skyline.

Yes, the dome and Mount Rainier are featured in most photographs of Tacoma, but they don’t really capture the pace and pulse, or even anything about the history and culture of Tacoma.

For a little over a hundred years the defining feature of Tacoma has been the waterfront.

Tacoma’s waterfront is its doorway to the world. Ships, for over a century, have found their home here and have departed from here. For decades many were literally built here. Some still are.

Tacoma’s port connects America’s markets, from products to produce, farms and factories to customers – and manufacturers literally around the world.

Tacoma's waterfront has always been a dramatic inspiration and invitation.  Photo: Morf Morford
Tacoma’s waterfront has always been a dramatic inspiration and invitation. Photo: Morf Morford

Our waterfront defines our landscape, our economy and our culture.

Many of us in the greater Tacoma area do not have much direct contact with the water.

Whether you are an advocate for the orcas, a strong local economy, a clean, healthy and attractive waterfront, boating or any interaction with the water, you owe it to yourself to participate in Tacoma’s celebration of its waterway.

The Foss Waterway Seaport, Puget Sound’s maritime heritage, education, and event center, is addressing this and will officially welcome and host the 26th Tacoma Maritime Fest July 27 & 28, 2019.

This is an all-ages event that honors Tacoma’s rich maritime history, the trades that defined its past, and the activities and industry that shape it now and in the future.

Celebrating the City of Destiny’s 46 miles of waterfront and rich history, Maritime Fest brings together an array of waterfront organizations: industrial, environmental, recreational, and nonprofit.

Tacoma Maritime Fest is a tradition that nearly a quarter-million people have enjoyed for over two decades. It is the only community event that celebrates Tacoma’s most important, most visible and most under-appreciated, if not unknown asset: its waterfront.

The 2019 Tacoma Maritime Fest, features family friendly activities for all to enjoy.  Admission to the Festival and the Seaport is FREE, as are most of the activities.


All weekend long enjoy:

Seaport Museum exhibits and activities, dockside watercraft tours and viewing, day sails and on-board tours, food trucks, entertainment, live music, kids activities, maritime art and a variety of hands-on experiences, and perhaps most exciting and appealing, your opportunity to get out on the water!


Foss Waterway Seaport permanent exhibits

Where Rails Met Sails

In 1873, Tacoma became the western terminus for the Northern Pacific Railroad. As the railroad continued to grow and solidify its position within Tacoma commerce, the Northern Pacific began construction of an immense warehouse practically one mile long. Construction on the building finished in 1900, and became a grain transfer facility.

Sit inside a life-sized model of steam locomotive. Run trains along a to-scale model of the Tacoma Wharf. Learn about Tacoma Union Station. See  photographs of the Northern Pacific Railway in its heyday.

Where Rails Met Sails celebrates the Northern Pacific Railroad and its impact on not only Tacoma, but also the entire Puget Sound region.

Foss Waterway Seaport

Puyallup people: First on the Waterways

For millennia, the Puyallup people have lived by, traveled on, and drawn sustenance from the Puyallup River, its creeks, and the nearby shores of what is now Puget Sound. Although they have face oppression since settlers first arrived in the mid-1800s, the Puyallup have persisted and maintain a strong connection with the waterways.

Working with the Puyallup tribe, Foss Waterway Seaport invites you to experience a snapshot of the many changes the Puyallup have experienced in the past two centuries. From the land on which they once and now settled, to maintaining the right to fish, First on the Waterways explores the dramatically changed world of the Puyallup.

Read the lore surrounding the creation of the Sound and its river life. Learn about the life of the Puyallup before its Western settlement. Hear about the relationships formed with the waterways and see how fishing on the Sound has changed over the past 200 years. See the importance of canoe carving and travel. Watch the transformation from tree to canoe. Build a plank house wall or balance a canoe. Hear spoken Lushootseed and understand the meaning behind each season.

Foss Waterway Seaport


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