We chose to take unknown back roads home from Point Defiance, accidentally passing through the little town of Steilacoom. What a delight! My love for both abandoned buildings and historic structures, not to mention two small ferries with differing tiny island destinations could have kept me here for days. But alas, we only had a couple brief hours to spend.

Steilacoom Tribal Cultural Center was a quaint, small town wonder. Housed in a small, historic church with peeling blue paint, the displays were spare but intriguing and the staff as attentive as a favorite neighbor. Jim and I got a private tour from knowledgeable and passionate volunteers who spoke to us as if we were old friends. This little gem is only open for a few hours on Saturday so make sure to plan your trip around it.

For me, the best part of town is the abandoned train station. The graceful lines of its beautiful architecture contrasted with peeling paint and crumbling stucco makes me swoon. Add it’s amazing perch on the edge of the sound with water and mountains spread before it and I’m in abandoned building heaven. And if you know me at all… you know how I love a good roof garden.

Can you see the beauty in its decay? The complex wood grain behind peeling paint? The fine double bricks beneath cracked stucco? The grass reaching for the sun from its gutter perch?

I was so immersed in this abandoned stations past that I didn’t notice a modern train approaching. When it suddenly materialized in my consciousness I felt like a time traveler witnessing the future. I could hardly breathe, my spine tingling until all the cars had sped out of sight.

My love for small town diners was fully indulged by The Bair Bistro, housed in the original and still authentically fabulous old Bair Drug & Hardware store. The interior contains different components of various old-time establishments including a soda fountain, post office and other antique commercial fixtures. Jim declares the fish and chips “wonderful” and I found the clam chowder fabulous.

As so often happens on these meandering the back roads trips, there just wasn’t enough time to explore all that Steilacoom has to offer. But I guarantee this little gem is on top of my list for a long and leisurely return trip.

If You Go …

Steilacoom is the oldest incorporated Washington city or town established in 1854! The community contains a large historic district with homes dating from the mid-1850’s and dramatic views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. For more information, see townofsteilacoom.com

Dara Wagner

I’m an energy healer specializing in aligned growth and personal healing. These day trips, road trips and impromptu explorations started as a mindfulness practice, helping me move from skimming the surface of life to diving deeply into the joy and majesty that surrounds us all. While I certainly admire a beautiful vista, it’s the weirdly wonderful, the tiny details I almost miss, the abandoned and decrepitly beautiful that really turn me on. I travel with Regal the Wonder Dog and a variety of friends plus the firm belief that something fabulous is about to happen. For more information on my energy practice, contact Your Path Healing: