|Located on the eastern shore of Puget Sound, midway between Seattle and Tacoma, Des Moines' history dates from about 1867. The City was named after the Des Moines City Improvement Company that was named after Des Moines, Iowa and is pronounced de moin'. The City's area is 5.58 square miles.
Des Moines, Washington - A City of Pioneers
Des Moines, Washington is a city of pioneers - pioneers like John Moore, who was the first known nonnative to settle here, and medical pioneer Dr. Barney Clark, who received the first artificial heart transplant. Bordered on the west by the Puget Sound, the community has always had a maritime orientation, serving as a focal point for the area.
Early Des Moines was seen by the Native American Indians, who followed the stream beds to catch spawning salmon and dig for clams; by British naval Captain George Vancouver during his 1792 explorations; by explorers from the Hudson's Bay Company in 1824; and by American explorer Charles Wilkes in 1841. The first Des Moines homestead claim certificate was granted to John Moore in 1872. In 1889 the plat of the Town of Des Moines was recorded and lots sold like hot cakes. In 1890, the Des Moines News described the city as “The best and most prosperous city on Puget Sound.” By the 1900's Puget Sound was a busy waterway, providing transportation, food and recreation. World War I brought summer visitors, many building large homes here. The dock was enlarged to accommodate a ferry run between Vashon Island and Des Moines, allowing island farmers to ship their fruits to the canneries in the valley.
Food and recreation were the main attractions in the 1920's and 1930's. Des Moines Beach Park and Salt Water Park were developed. During and after World War II, the population grew and businesses boomed, leading to formal incorporation as a City in 1959 and the eventual construction of a marina and pier.
Des Moines continues to expand and change with time. However, it still retains the charm of its pioneer history and its ties to the Puget Sound.