The City of Yelm has come a long way from humble beginnings originally inhabited by
the local Nisqually Indian Tribe into a hub for Washington's Southeast Thurston County
& southwest Pierce County residents & businesses, as well as the city many pass in their
daily commutes to the State capitol in Olympia or Joint-Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in
Tacoma. John Longmire was one of the first settlers that started arriving in the
mid- 1800s, followed by the Northern Pacific Railroad beginning service in 1873.
Longmire explored Mt. Rainier and upon building a wagon road and a guiding station to
the future national park, Yelm came to be known as the gateway to Mt. Rainier. Yelm
and Mt. Rainier have always had a close relationship. The headwaters of the Nisqually
River flow through Yelm enroute to Puget Sound. Former Yelm teacher Fay Fuller was
the first woman to ever to ascend to the peak of one of the tallest mountains in the
continental United States.
Today, Yelm is mostly a bedroom community for families who are employed in Olympia,
Tacoma or Centralia, attracting a large number of military personnel within close
proximity to JBLM . Yelm is also adjacent Ramtha's School of Enlightenment which draws
thousands of students to the area from around the world for events throughout the year.
Yelm boasts a population of over 7,000 people within the
city limits and serves as the commercial center for thousands
more that live in the pristine, surrounding rural areas. The
word "Yelm" was born from the Coast Salish Native American
language word "shelm",
which means "land of the dancing spirits", from the shimmering mirage from heat rising
from the Summer Prairie floor.
We are so glad you came to learn about this vibrant and beautiful area to see
why this is the Pride of the Prairie!