The City of Orting’s History
Orting’s history began in 1854 when settlers established homes on four donation land claims in what would later become the City of Orting. The following year, in 1855, conflicts between settlers and Native Americans erupted into the Puget Sound Indian Wars and these early settlers fled to Fort Steilacoom for protection. The Sumner-Orting road was completed in 1877, the same year the railroad built its line through Orting to the coal mines at Wilkeson.
More settlers began to trickle into the area with the coming of the railroad, establishment of coal mines, and the plentiful timber for logging. Agriculture began to take hold and many settlers turned their fields into hop and bulb farms. About 1880, Frederick E. Eldredge, a graduate attorney, came to Orting to teach school. He filed a contest of an earlier land donation claim in court and won. Soon after he filed a town site plat and the Town of Orting was born with Eldredge serving as its first mayor.
The region was beginning to prosper, but needed more workers. Eldredge and a local farmer (Thomas Lee) got together and formed a partnership with the Spreckles Sugar Company in the Sandwich Islands that employed German immigrants. At the close of their contract these immigrants were promised passage to the west coast and Orting marketed itself as a great place to live. Their efforts proved successful and many German immigrants began arriving to the area.
In the 1900’s the hops began to fail, the railroad was troubled by strikes, and coal mining began to decline. Hard times set in and many who were wealthy and excited about Orting becoming an important city found themselves poverty stricken and discouraged. Orting was never to see a population growth of such proportions until the 1990’s when it started to become a bedroom community for the larger Puget Sound cities to the north and west.