Capitol Lake History
The Vision of the Lake came about in 1911 under a plan that was created for the State Capitol Campus. In 1855, Edmund Sylvester donated 12 acres on Budd Inlet for the Washington State Capitol. Wilder and White’s plan for the Capitol, which included a freshwater reflecting lake, was chosen by the State in 1911. The Olmsted Brothers were asked by the State to submit a landscape plan. The 1912 Olmsted plan included a saltwater reflecting lake, but the plan was not adopted. In 1938, the State authorized the actions to create the Lake.
See our Photo Gallery or our Slide Shows for a pictoral view of the changes through the years.
Back in the day . . .
"Bridge across Budd's Inlet" . . . over the mud flats which divide Olympia
See an article from October 15, 1854
< click pic for large view
See our Contacts & Links page for several historical archive references.
Our timeline shows many of the events that were directly involved with the evolution of this urban lake.
- State Legislature allots $200,000 to assess what permits and costs would be for a minor dredging project
- HB1938 "Regarding the management of Capitol Lake"
- March - Bill "dies" before vote in House Capital Budget Committee
- February - Approved 6-4 vote - State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee
- CLIPA White Paper released - July 2010
- November - Capitol Campus Design Advisory Committee receives briefing
- September - CLAMP Steering Committee made recommendation to Wa General Admin Director
- Alternatives reviewed, CLAMP recommends estuary over lake restoration
- May - FOWW and OYC Position Papers released
- Wa General Administration installs grass and basic utilities at Heritage Park
- Wa General Admin completes the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial overlooking Heritage Park
- Wa General Admin repairs the Heritage Park Hillside Trail
- Wa General Admin repairs Marathon Park and Capitol Lake Interpretive Center
- Wa General Admin treats the lake for Eurasian water milfoil
- Wa State Dept of Transportation replants the wetland mitigation site in the Middle Basin
- Wa State Dept of Transportation repairs earthquake damage to Deschutes Parkway
- Olympia rebuilds the 4th Avenue Bridge
- State Capitol Committee authorizes the Deschutes Estuary Feasibility Study, part of CLAMP 10-Year Plan
- Wa General Admin and Olympia coordinate street improvements to 5th Avenue, Heritage Fountain, Water Street and 7th Avenue
- State Capitol Committee adopts the Capitol Lake Adaptive Management Plan (CLAMP) 2003-2013, without the Deschutes Estuary Feasibility Study management objective
- Capitol Lake Adaptive Management - "A vision for the Next 10 years" is completed with 14 objectives including an "estuary feasibility study". Plan adopted by State Capitol Committee EXCEPT the estuary study
- Nisqually Earthquake damages Deschutes Parkway, shoreline parks, and the 4th Avenue Bridge
- Wa General Admin buries county time capsules in Heritage Park at the Eastern Washington Butte
- Wa General Admin constructs Heritage Park - Arc of Statehood in the North Basin and creates a wetland mitigation site at the de-watering basin in the Middle Basin
- Wa General Admin adopts Capitol Lake Adaptive Management Plan (CLAMP) for 1999-2001
- Environmental Impact Statement completed and filed at same time as CLAMP report. Plan is first direct investigation of estuary alternatives. EIS examines 5 alternatives: Lake/River Wetland with and without sediment trap (maintaining North Basin), Lake, Estuary, and Lake/Estuary.
- Capitol Lake Management Plan Steering Committee formed.
- Olympia constructs Heritage Park Fountain
- Gridlock develops over GA efforts to gain permits for construction of Heritage Park and maintenance dredging of Middle Basin and Percival Cove. WA GA decides not to force issue but organizes a task force to address the management deadlock. First indication of Estuary movement.
- "Collins" report concludes that maintenance sediment removal of Capitol Lake is expected to be a long-term, ongoing need.
- Wa General Admin acquires land for Heritage Park from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad
- State Capitol Committee adopts the Heritage Park Master Plan
- Capitol Lake Restoration: Committee Report and Proposed Action Plan is completed by inter-agency task force calling for "maintenance dredging on a planned and regular basis".
- Wa Dept Fish & Wildlife adds net pens to Percival Cove
- Wa General Admin constructs Capitol Lake Interpretive Center
- Wa General Admin dredges Middle Basin.
Approximately 57,000 cubic feet of sediment was dredged.
- Olympia closes the Capitol Lake Park swimming area
- First Women's Marathon Trials end at Marathon Park
- 1983-1992Wa State Dept Transportation widens Interstate 5 and rebuilds the Highway 101 Interchange
- Dredge spoils are used to create Tumwater Historical Park, and to create dike and de-watering basin at future Capitol Lake Interpretive Center site
- Wa General Admin dredges South Basin and Middle Basin. Approximately 250,000 cubic feet of sediment was dredged.
- Wa General Admin initiates "Save A Beautiful Lake" Program.
The program calls for dredging sediment.
- 1952-1974 An estimated 660,000 cubic feet of sediment has accumulated in the lake.
- Wa Dept Fish & Wildlife begins to raise salmon in Percival Cove
- Wa General Administration creates shoreline park in North Basin later renamed "Marathon Park"
- Wa General Administration rebuilds Deschutes Parkway after damage from the earthquake
- Olympia constructs Capitol Lake Park with swimming area
- Olympia connects 5th Avenue at Deschutes Parkway to West Olympia
- 1957-1958 Wa State Dept of Transportation constructs the Interstate 5 and Highway 101 Interchange
- Wa. Dept Fish & Wildlife constructs fish ladders at Tumwater Falls and on Percival Creek
- Olympia constructs the first waste-water treatment facility on Puget Sound.
- Corps of Engineers constructs Capitol Lake dam, 5th Avenue, and Deschutes Parkway.
- Capitol Lake is formed.
- State authorized construction of Capitol Lake
- Legislature authorizes creation of Capitol Lake
- State initiates actions to create Capitol Lake
- Northern Pacific Railroad rebuilds trestle
- Olympia constructs concrete 4th Avenue Bridge
- Wilder & White revise the original Capitol Campus Plan
- Wilder & White plan for the Capitol Campus completed. The plan envisions a reflective body of water fronting the Capitol building group.
- Leopold Schmidt constructs the Olympia Brewery near Tumwater Falls
- Northern Pacific Railroad (later Burlington Northern Santa Fe) crosses Budd Inlet at the base of the future West Campus
- Edmund Sylvester donates 12 acres on Budd Inlet for the Washington State Capitol