Yes, South Hill Has a History

South Hill's Historic Corridor

map Naches Pass Trail/South Hill Heritage Corridor route shown over
current streets with marker sign locations.

The South Hill Heritage Corridor identifies the route over South Hill used by early Indian tribes, the first wagon train pioneers to Puget Sound and the United States military.

In 2002 Pierce County installed eight interpretive signs along current South Hill roads marking the route.

The South Hill Historical Society (thanks to the work of member Carl Vest and former Pierce County Councilman Calvin Goings) is responsible for promoting the concept and implementation of the South Hill Heritage Corridor designation and signage.

The effort was motivated by a desire to celebrate and bring public awareness to this historic corridor that crosses South Hill. For hundreds of years this route connected Eastern Washington with the Puget Sound area. Its first use was an Indian trade corridor between Indian tribes on both sides of the Cascades known as the Klickitat Trail. In 1853 the Longmire/Byles wagon train crossed South Hill using this route, bringing the first white settler families to Puget Sound and establishing the north fork of the Oregon Trail.

The trail also served as a Military Road between Fort Steilacoom and Walla Walla, connecting encampments on both sides of the Cascades. The corridor played an essential role in the early settlement and development of Pierce County as homesteaders flooded into the area to start new lives and new communities.

Today, for the most part, the trail has disappeared. However, old maps along with recent surveys have established its route.

roadside marker
Corridor markers as seen
along South Hill roadsides

In addition to the interpretive signs posted along the roadsides, the Rogers High School Campus and the Heritage Recreation Center sports facility have ground markers where the trail crossed these properties. The most prominent of the two is mounted in the walkway surface at the main entrance to the sports facility, south of the 128th Street parking lot.