Early Explorers

Early Explorers (HM15HH)

Location: Mukilteo, WA 98275 Snohomish County
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Country: United States of America
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N 47° 56.896', W 122° 18.369'

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Early Explorers of the Mukilteo Region

We do not know the name of the first man or women to venture into the Mukilteo area, but we do know that the ancestors of today's Native Americans migrated from Asia to North America at least 12,000 years ago. Evidence of the next explorers is also fragmented, as scholars debate the possibility of visits to the Washington coast by early Polynesians, a Chinese navigator in 458, Sir Francis Drake in 1579, and Juan de Fuca (a Greek mariner employed by the Spanish) in 1592. The historical record is clearer in the 18th century, as Russian fur traders came down from Siberia and Spanish navigators came up from Mexico, drawing sketch maps and making claims along the coast.

The towering figure among all of them was Captain George Vancouver, who led a British naval expedition to explore and map the entire western coast of North America, from California to Alaska. Between 1791 and 1795, Vancouver and his men mapped the 5,000 miles of coastline so well that portions of his maps were still used until the 1920s. On May 30, 1792, Vancouver's ship, the Discovery, anchored just off the point of land on which the Mukilteo Light Station is now located: "...we anchored off a place called Rose Point from the numerous trees of that name that were on the low ground..." The next morning, Captain Vancouver carried out measurements "on a low point of land near the ship," perhaps on the very spot you are now standing. At the same time, the expedition's Naturalist, Archibald Menzies, walked along the beaches around here, collecting plant specimens and making observations. (See bronze plaque in front of the Lighthouse Tower)

Rose Point remained the English-language name of this site until 1841, when a United States Naval Lieutenant, Charles Wilkes, named it Point Elliot (called Elliot Point on modern charts) on the map he produced for the American government. The Wilkes Expedition was part of a larger policy to strengthen the claim of the United States on the region, whose trade was still largely dominated by Britain's Hudson's Bay Company.

Resistance by Native Americans to immigration into what was named the Washington Territory in 1853 resulted in a series of ten treaties, of which the second, the Point Elliott Treaty, was signed on this site on January 22, 1855. Careful readers may have noticed that Lt. Wilkes named it "Point Elliot," but it was misspelled in the official treaty and so it has been the Point Elliott Treaty ever since Congress ratified it in 1859). In 1860, just one year after ratification of the treaty, the first official land claims in Mukilteo were made by two American settlers, Morris Frost and Jacob Fowler.

Mukilteo's founders rejected both Rose Point and Point Elliot in favor of a name in the Snohomish language: Muckl-te-ho. Written in English as Mukilteo, the word probably meant "long neck of the goose" in reference to the narrow spit of land which was here at the time (most of Lighthouse Park was a lagoon). Mukilteo may have been used also by the Indians to refer to a "good camping ground or meeting place". Whatever the origins of the name, it may be seen today as a kind of linguistic tribute to that first human explorer who arrived here so many millennia ago.

Text courtesy of John & Ann Collier, Mukilteo Historical SocietyCity of Mukilteo
HM NumberHM15HH
Placed ByCity of Mukilteo
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 at 5:56am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)10T E 551809 N 5310783
Decimal Degrees47.94826667, -122.30615000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 47° 56.896', W 122° 18.369'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds47° 56' 53.76" N, 122° 18' 22.14" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)425, 206
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 610 Front St, Mukilteo WA 98275, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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