Tumwater is a city in Thurston County, Washington, United States. It lies near where the Deschutes River enters Budd Inlet, the southernmost point of Puget Sound. The population was 17,371 at the 2010 census. Thurston County, which includes the cities of Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater, has a population of 252,264.
Tumwater was founded next to the falls of the Deschutes River at the south end of Puget Sound as New Market in 1846 by a group of pioneers led by Michael Simmons and George Bush. It was the first American settlement on Puget Sound. These early settlers were attracted by the water-power potential from the falls, the easy access to Budd Inlet for shipping, and the open prairie land in the area for cattle grazing.
A major factor driving the Simmons-Bush Party to locate north of the Columbia River beyond Oregon Territory is that the American settlers in Oregon prohibited settlement by non-whites to avoid the contentious slavery issue. Bush, a mulatto, was not allowed to own land under Oregon law. Later, when the area north of the Columbia became part of US territory, white settlers petitioned Congress to grant Bush title to his land, which was approved.