Welcome to Renton, WA
Just over 100 years ago, Renton was just an open space along the trail form Seattle. Framed by densely wooded hills, and with the Black and Cedar river running thru it, had long been home to the Duwamish Indians.
One of the first settlers was Henry Tobin. In 1853, Henry Tobin and his wife, Diana, built their first home on a donation claim on the banks of the Cedar and Black Rivers. After Tobins death in 1857, Diana married Erasmus Smithers. Smithers platted the Town of Renton on part of the land that he and his wife owned. [The Donation Land Claim Act of 1850 allowed settlers coming into the Oregon Territory to claim 160 acres acres by surveying the property, submitting a description to the government and living on the land for an period of four years.]
In 1873, Smithers, with the financial backing of Captain William Renton, organized the Renton Coal Company. Captain Renton, a wealthy businessman, was one of the founders of the first sawmill and along with his partner Talbot was responsible for the construction of the first railroad used in the territory.
The Town was incorporated on September 3, 1901, having been governed a part of the Washington Territory after the Oregon Territory was divided in 1853. The first mayor was Dr. Beach, who believe strongly that the town should own their water supply. The first town offices were opened in Tonkins General Store, located where Tonkin's Park is today.
The first schoolhouse was built inside the city limits, and was the first to be erected in King County. In 1871 a dozen children lived in Renton, five years later there were 87.
Between 1920 and 1930 changes continued to take place in Renton as it slowly evolved from a fledgling town to an urban center. The U.S.Junk Company opened in 1927 and several moves and name changes later, continues to do business as McLendon's Hardware today. Coal mining and other early industry like Pacific Car and Foundry (PACCAR) continued to be an important part of the city's economy through the 1930's and then the Boeing Company stepped up its World War II production, which was a big turning point for the city.
In 1941, Renton's population was 4488, but the building of the Renton-Boeing plant for the production of the famous B-29s brought thousands to our city seeking employment with the Boeing Airplane Company; with the result the Renton Housing Authority was formed to build homes for these people.
After the war, the big majority of these people continued to make their homes here and have been absorbed in other industries in Renton and nearby Seattle. Unlike other war industrial areas that lost considerable of its population immediately following the end of the war, Renton's population remained constant.
Renton is located in King county, about 19 miles southeast of Seattle, and has a population of approximately 44,890. Renton is still home to the Boeing Airplane Company and to PACCAR, both known and recognized worldwide as manufacturers of the finest products in their field. (Courtesy of the Renton City Government)