On March 17, 1888 Allen C. Mason donated the first section of Puget Park “to the uses of the public forever.” Additional land was later donated by Charles S. Reeves and others. The park included the small level area along Proctor as well as the gulch extending from Union Street down to the waterfront.
But in 1891 the talk was all about the gold. “Gold Discovered in Puget Park!” was the headline of an August 8, 1891 newspaper article in the TACOMA NEWS. Puget Park, located at the corner of Procter Street and North 31st, was one of the first parks donated to the City of Tacoma. According to the article:
“Yesterday some timber-clearers in the North End discovered what they took to be gold in Puget Park….On investigation the dust proved to be actual gold. It was found in one of the park gulches, not very far from the Mason’s chapel. An analysis is being made of some of the soil containing the shining particles.
The timber clearers reported their find to Major D. C. Stam, who made a personal examination of the premises. He says the appearances are identical with those of the spot where some well diggers found gold over a year ago. The find created considerable excitement at the time, but the gold was not in large enough quantities to pay for working. The indications are, he thinks, that the gulch contains more gold than did the well.
The city may thus have a bonanza which will yield enough of the precious “dirt” to carry on the proposed park improvements without issuing bonds.
Mr. Allen C. Mason, on hearing of the reported gold find this morning said, “If I had known that these gulches contained gold perhaps I wouldn’t have given that park to the city. But one thing I do know and knew then, Mr. Reporter, is that the gulch from which Mr. Mullen draws his North End water supply contains some splendid mineral springs which I am firm in believing can be made, with proper care, to yield a large supply of mineral water. I drank water from the springs last summer, when not feeling very well, and it invigorated and helped me a great deal. I think that those springs can be made as famous as any in the West.
“The water contains iron, magnesia, sulphur, I think, and other medicinal properties. Now, it has been brought to my attention again, I intend to have some of it analyzed. Quite likely there is more gold in those springs than in the gulch dirt. Time will tell.”
It appears that Mr. Mason was thinking well into the future and today’s popularity of bottled waters. Maybe we should consider bottling Puget Gulch Creek Water as another way to earn revenue? It’s interesting to note that even in 1891 people were trying to come up with ways to financially support the parks without having to resort to bond issues.
Story and photo reprinted with permission. Original can be found at www.metroparkstacoma.org/history-puget-park.