South Hill's Odens Road
by Carl Vest
The names of streets on South Hill conform to either the grid system of Pierce County or that of the City of Puyallup where applicable. These lattice structures have been in place for several decades. Before that the thoroughfares were generally known as Roads and were regularly identified by names associated with local people. Usually the designations were intended to honor the efforts of neighboring people who had taken the time and suffered the expense of getting the motorway developed. One of these early streets was known as Odens Road, or in today’s arrangement, 94th Avenue East.
Odens Road was established in the 1920s. On November 5, 1920 a Petition from property holders along the proposed route was presented to the Pierce County Commissioners asking that the road to be built. Nine people signed the request including a Mr. G. Odens who listed himself as being a “contract holder.” This means that Mr. Odens did not actually own property along the proposed route but had a contract to buy the acreage he was occupying. In the application he states generally where his property was located, which was near present-day Rogers High School. It is not clear why the road is named for him.
The original request was for a north-south thoroughfare between two existing east-west roads: 60 feet wide and with a length of two miles and 83.5 feet. The starting point was on the K. J. Oversat Road, now known as 112 Street East (this highway has had many names over the years, including Midland-Summit Highway). The ending point was at the James B. Collins Road, now known as 128th Street East. The route survey was completed in January 1926. The project was declared finished and named on July 27, 1926. The approval was signed by Henry Ball and Frederic Shaw as County Commissioners.
Almost immediately after its completion another Petition (in 1927) was submitted to the County Commissioners asking that the road be extended further south. The list of petitioners has not survived but a Mr. L. A. Bock is listed as the main author. He is also listed on the original request as one of the nine people signing it. This second solicitation asked that the road be extended south to another east-west thoroughfare named Mitchell-Gould Road, an additional 2,658.7 feet. Mitchell-Gould Road is now known as 152nd Street East.
The second phase of Odens Road was completed in early 1927. On February 15, 1927 County Commissioners Henry Ball and George M. Meath declared the additional undertaking finished and entered into the County records that it would be called Odens Extension County Road.
People using 94th Avenue will notice brown historic street markers giving the old name of the path, usually just under the current identification. No attempt has been made to distinguish between Odens Road and Odens Extension.
Odens Road (and its extension) took almost a decade to come into being, from conception to development. It has been in place almost 90 years, still serving the needs of South Hill.
Carl Vest, PhD, is a founding member and Research Director for the South Hill Historical Society.