THE HISTORY OF THE SMYTH FAMILY
Smyth family has deep roots in the history of West Bay drive.
At the turn of the century West Bay Drive was a bustling community,
a working waterfront full of life and activity. The Smyths
have always been a part of that working waterfront. The family
has traced its roots back as far at Edward James Smyth who
owned a boat building company in Olympia in the late 1800's.
Edward and Viola lived on North Sherman Street, but when times
got tough, Edward left for Alaska during the gold rush and
made his fortune in Alaska. All we know, is that he had a
shipbuilding business in Whitehorse Alaska and that streets
were named after him in downtown Fairbanks, Alaska. He owned
a lot of property in downtown Fairbanks, but his estate was
never probated because his attorney died after he did. Viola
Smyth is buried here in Olympia.
and Viola Smyth, had a son named Delta Victor Smyth. Delta
V. was well known in Olympia. He formed many businesses along
West Bay Drive. Delta V. Smyth Tug and Barge was his most
well known business. He also formed Hardel Plywood with the
assistance of his brother, Harold Smyth. Delson Lumber Company
was started by Delta, Eb Nelson and Clare Dickison, hence
the name "Delson". Ordel was another business on West Bay
that Delta helped start. All these businesses were named by
Delta's wife, Ruth Smyth.
tugboat business operated along Percival landing and near
the present day Oyster House there is an interpretative sign
showing the many tugboats in his fleet. The Sandman, which
is being restored today, was one of his tugs. Delta's office
was a small building located over pilings, which has now been
expanded and is the present day Budd Bay Cafe. Every year
at the annual Harbor Days celebration the trophy that is given
to the winning tug is named after Delta V. Smyth, in honor
of his years in the tugboat business in Olympia.
Delta sold the business to Foss Tug and Barge and when they
determined the wooden tugboats were no longer economically
viable they consolidated their operations in Seattle. Presently,
we only have one tugboat company remaining in Olympia, Olympia
Towing, which used to be owned by the Willies, but is now
owned by Dunlap Towing out of LaConner. However, Dunlap Towing's
Olympia operations is still managed by a Willie, Mac Willie.
V. Smyth also served as a Port Commissioner for the Port of
Olympia. In the late 1950's, Delson Lumber Company was going
through a difficult period, so Delta asked his son, Delta
Wayne Smyth, to come and help him with the family business.
D. Wayne Smyth was young at the time he had just returned
from the war, where he was a lieutenant in the Navy. He was
now an engineer, but he had grown up working on his father's
tugs. D. Wayne Smyth took Delson lumber Company from a small
cant mill to a full sized sawmill that produced and sold lumber
all over the world. At one time Delson Lumber had fourteen
railcars shipping lumber all across the country.
the mid 1970's, Wayne Smyth foresaw the trends in the industry
and started Skookum Lumber, a small log mill in Mason County.
It got harder and harder to operate on the waterfront in Olympia.
There was increasing conflict with the residential community
that was developing on the hilltop. Olympia was growing as
a government town and industry was shrinking.
1982, during a low point in the industry, Wayne shut down
the Delson mill in Olympia. Skookum Lumber was still going
strong and fitting the niche in the market that he had foreseen.
Therefore, the Smyth family focused there energies on the
mill in Mason County.
and his wife, Jean, had two children, Delta Tucker Smyth and
Sarah Wayne Smyth. Wayne asked his children to come and work
for the family business. His son was also an engineer and
he came and worked with his father at the Skookum mill in
Mason County. His daughter was a lawyer and she served as
General Counsel for the family business as well as managed
the timberlands and the redevelopment of the old Delson millsite
on West Bay.
1985, Delson leased the Olympia millsite to WTD Industries,
who for five years tried to make a go of it on the Olympia
waterfront. WTD had mills all over the Pacific Northwest.
In 1990, WTD Industries declared bankruptcy and auctioned
off the mill equipment. Delson Lumber took back the West Bay
Drive property and has been managing it's redevelopment ever
1990 through 1992, the Smyth family worked with the City to
get the appropriate permits to demolish and cleanup the old
millsite. The family successfully obtained a No Further Action
letter from the Department of Ecology after years of hardwork
and diligent efforts to review all environmental issues on
1993, Delson applied for a rezone of the site from Industrial
to Urban Waterfront. A new zoning designation had to be created
for West Bay as well as the Port peninsula called Urban Waterfront
and new development regulations had to be drafted. Finally,
in 1996 the old millsite was rezoned to Urban Waterfront and
the site was ready for redevelopment.
1997 through the present, the Smyth family has invested considerable
time and money into developing a master plan for the site
that represents their vision for the property's future. The
Smyth family has participated in over two decades of public
planning processes for the West Bay Drive area.
family has listened to what the community would like to see
on West Bay and they have made every effort to incorporate
these ideas in the master plan for the Delson property. There
are parks, trails, habitat restoration and enhancement and
stream restoration for Schneider creek, all included in the
Smyth Family Redevelopment plans.
encourage the public to take a look at what we have done and
help us make this place a wonderful place for this community
to enjoy and learn the history of this magical part of our