MARK TWAIN
OLYMPIA
August 11, 1895
After Mark Twain spoke in Portland on August 10th, he headed north. It was a very hot summer and the area was in the midst of a drought. This drought caused large forest fires on the Olympic Peninsula that filled the Puget Sound region with smoke, severely limiting visibility.  In Olympia, the citizen delegation took Twain's party to the Hotel Olympia, the town's fanciest and largest hotel. Other prominent residents visited to pay Mark Twain their respects.
Tickets had been available at the M. O'Connor's stationary store that morning for Twain's evening lecture at the Olympia Theater. Owned and operated by John Miller Murphy (outspoken editor of the Washington Standard newspaper), the theater was located at what is now the site of Orca Books (509 4th Avenue E). Many events and plays over the years were held at the theater, sometimes called the Olympia Opera House before it was torn down in 1925.
In the report,
"HISTORY OF THURSTOM COUNTY"
the text was very concered about
having railroad service.

Text: The spring of '69 witnessed
another railroad agitation. 
The Columbia river and Puget Sound
railroad company desired
a puget sound terminus and
on April 1, a meeting was held at
Olympia and a committee of
thirteen appointed to canvass
for donations of land on condition
that the terminus be located
on Budd's Inlet near Olympia.

On September 5, 1872 a special
meeting   of the county board was
called to consider the calling of
a special election to vote bonds
for a railroad from Budd's Inlet
to the Northern Pacific at Tenino.

 It was an important event in
the history of the county.  
The outcome was  the
"OLYMPIA RAILROAD UNION"

A spirited address was issued to
the  people and books opened for
subscriptions to stock. 

Stock was readily taken and the
people heartily took hold of the
project to build a road from
Olympia to Tenino.

The Northern Pacific eventually
 chose Tacoma, but Olympia boosters
did not accept their fate,
and ended up building a narrow
 gauge railroad of their own,
opening for the first trains in 1878.

After coming up from the south,
the line snaked through Tumwater
(just east of Capitol Boulevard)
 and then through the Deschutes
Canyon, and up the western shore
of what is now Capitol Lake.

The railroad's main depot stood very near where 4th Avenue crosses the head of Budd Inlet now.

 The 15.5 mile road connected Olympia with longer regional railroads at Tenino,
 and changed ownership a handful of times before it was abandoned in 1916.

The first Northern Pacific depot, pictured above around 1914, was built in about 1891,
the year that the Northern Pacific railroad reached downtown Olympia.
photo courtesy of Washington State Historical Society
In the 1880s, it became apparent that Olympia was in urgent need of a hotel that could accommodate
 the numbers of legislators,  lobbyists and hangers-on that appeared on a regular basis during legislative sessions.
 A number of prominent citizens raised the funds to build the grand Victorian-style Olympia Hotel
(or sometimes termed Hotel Olympia) that was built next to the home of pioneer George H.  Foster,
whose small house can be seen just to the left of the hotel in the photograph below.

The building was at the time waterfront property (or mud-front property at low tide).  Among the financers of the hotel was Pamelia Case Hale,
who at the time was listed as  the richest person in Thurston County.
Hale was the prime investor in the trolley system that ran past the hotel.
 
According to the Olympia Heritage inventory, the hotel also served as a meeting place for the Christian Science congregation.
Sadly, the hotel burned in a spectacular fire in 1904.
OLYMPIA HISTORY
Mark Twain spoke at the Olympia Theater.
 A horse-drawn street car is visible in the foreground of the picture.
John Miller Murphy's wife Eliza and daughters Annie and Rosie are on the balcony.
Photo courtesy: Washington State Digital Archives, State Library Photograph Collection, 1851-1990.
"Mark having breakfast in Olympia Wash
 Aug 11 -- 1895"  
Twain
On the evening of August 11th, Twain gave a 90-minute solo lecture to the fair sized audience,
making the crowds laugh with his discussion of his many stories. His recitations and stories were
greatly enjoyed and applauded. Although the audience was said to enjoy the performance,
Murphy later took the town to task in his newspaper for not turning out in bigger numbers.

Twain continued on the tour, going to Tacoma the next morning.
TWAIN
Mark Twain, the legendary American author
seen in this 1909 portrait, visited Olympia in 1895.
 
Photo courtesy: Library of Congress