The Olympic Mountains are a mountain range on the Olympic Peninsula of western Washington in the United States. The mountains, part of the Pacific Coast Ranges, are not especially high – Mount Olympus is the highest at 7,962 ft (2,427 m); however, the eastern slopes rise out of Puget Sound and the western slopes are separated from the Pacific Ocean by the 20 to 35 km (12 to 22 mi) wide Pacific Ocean coastal plain. Most of the mountains are protected within the bounds of the Olympic National Park.
The mountains were originally called “Sun-a-do” by the Duwamish Indians, while the first European to see them, the Spanish navigator Juan Perez, named Mount Olympus “Santa Rosalia”, in 1774. But the English captain John Meares, seeing them in 1788, thought them beautiful enough for the gods to dwell there, and named the highest point “Mount Olympus” after the mountain in Greece. Various names for the mountains were used based on the name Mount Olympus, including the Olympic Range, the Olympian Mountains, and the Olympus Range. Alternate proposals never caught on, and in 1864 the Seattle Weekly Gazette persuaded the government to make the present-day name official, although other names continued to be used.
The site of Olympia has been home to Lushootseed-speaking peoples for thousands of years, including Squaxin, Nisqually, Puyallup, Chehalis, Suquamish, and Duwamish.
The first recorded visit by Europeans was in 1792 when Peter Puget and a crew from the British Vancouver Expedition charted the site. In 1846, Edmund Sylvester and Levi Smith jointly claimed the land that now comprises downtown Olympia. In 1851, the U.S. Congress established the Customs District of Puget Sound for Washington Territory and Olympia became the home of the customs house. Its population steadily expanded from Oregon Trail immigrants. In 1853, the town settled on the name Olympia, at the suggestion of local resident Colonel Isaac N. Ebey, due to its view of the Olympic Mountains to the Northwest. The area began to be served by a small fleet of steamboats known as the Puget Sound Mosquito Fleet.
In 1896, Olympia became the home of the Olympia Brewing Company, which brewed Olympia Beer until 2003.
A 1949 earthquake damaged many historic buildings beyond repair, and they were demolished. Parts of the city also suffered damage from earthquake tremors in 1965 and the 2001 Nisqually earthquake.
In 1967, the state legislature approved the creation of The Evergreen State College in Olympia. Since 1984, Olympia has also been home to the South Puget Sound Community College. Olympia has become a hub for artists and musicians, and has been named one of the best college towns in the nation for its vibrant downtown and access to outdoor activities