Location: between Boulevard Bridge and 15th Street, on Boulevard Road
Transportation, Schools, Popular Culture
|Piety Hill School 1903 photograph courtesy of Washington State Historical Society||Boulevard Bridge today (2012), Photograph courtesy of Deb Ross|
Boulevard Road is thought by some local historians to follow a very old Native American trail linking the prairie to the Sound. The area between 15th Street and the crossing of the Olympia Woodland Trail (former railroad tracks) was known as Piety Hill, for reasons lost to history. (There was at least one church in the area and possibly an Indian burial ground). A school was established near the intersection of Boulevard and 15th, officially called the Eastside school, but known unofficially as the Piety Hill school. This school eventually was replaced by the McKinley School, located where the Olympia Regional Learning Academy is now, on the east side of Boulevard Road.
The Northern Pacific Railroad laid its tracks into downtown Olympia in 1891. Burlington Northern purchased the tracks, and then, when service into the city was abandoned, the right of way was eventually acquired to form the core of the Olympia Woodland Trail.
The intersection of the railroad, now a walking and biking trail and Boulevard Road, which follows an ancient walking and riding trail, could be considered a metaphor for the continuing evolution of transportation modes in Olympia. The footing for the bridge is a well-used site for unofficial urban art (a/k/a graffiti).
Links to more information:
Washington State Historical Society (enter the following catalog numbers in Collections Search box): C1970.28.6; C1957.134x.12; C1970.28.5, C1970.28.4