Lake Steilacoom

Lake Steilacoom is a reservoir approximately 4 km (2.5 mi) southwest of Tacoma in Pierce County, Washington, United States. Its boundaries lie entirely within the city of Lakewood, Washington. The reservoir covers approximately 306 acres (1,240,000 m2), has a mean depth of 11 feet (3.4 m) and a maximum depth of 20 feet (6.1 m). Lake Steilacoom is a freshwater lake and drains into Puget Sound via Chambers Creek, which begins at its northern tip. The lake is fed at its southeastern end by two creeks: Ponce de Leon Creek, which originates in springs below what is now Lakewood Towne Center, as well as Clover Creek which flows from its source near Frederickson to the lake.

Lake Steilacoom
LocationLakewood, Pierce County, Washington, United States
Coordinates47°10′41″N 122°32′10″W
Primary inflowsPonce de Leon Creek, Clover Creek
Primary outflowsChambers Creek
Basin countriesUnited States
Surface area306 acres (124 ha) [1]
Average depth11 ft (3.4 m)
Max. depth20 ft (6.1 m)

The reservoir was created in 1853 when Andrew Byrd built a dam across Chambers Creek, flooding what had previously been a small pond in a wetland. The dam was used for his sawmill (also built in 1853) and a grist mill (100 yards downstream, in 1857). A public boat launch can be found on the eastern shore in Edgewater Park.

The smaller pond was known as Lake Wyatchew prior to the dam's installation, and was briefly known later as Byrd's lake.

The Rhodesleigh mansion is located by the lake.

The Nisqually Indians say this lake was possessed by an evil female monster known as Whe-atchee. Legends of the creature attacking people go back over a century.[2] To this day, Nisqually refuse to fish or swim here.

360° panorama of Lake Steilacoom as viewed from the Interlaaken Drive Bridge on a sunny July afternoon.
  • Lake Steilacoom Improvement Club, including history
  • "EPA Report on Total Maximum Daily Loads for Phosphorus in Steilacoom Lake and Copper in Chambers Creek" (PDF).


  1. Steilacoom Lake at the Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife site
  2. Wickersham, James (1868). "Nusqually Mythology: Studies of the Washington Indians". The Overland Monthly. Overland Monthly Publishing Company. 32 (July–December 1898): 350. Retrieved 2012-04-21.

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