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Seattle Underground Tour, A Troll and Family – Day 58

Today, on our final day in Seattle, we were able to partake in a little history of how the town was built by taking the famous Seattle Underground Tour.

And by underground, I don’t mean the dirt and gossip on how the city was made years ago. I literally mean underground. The sidewalks and streets are actually beneath the ones that you walk and drive on today.

We found out about this tour from a suggestion made by someone that we met a few days ago. And because it sounded so unique, we decided to take the tour ourselves.

Pioneer Square

We arrived in Pioneer Square which is just south of downtown Seattle. After finding a place to park, which isn’t easy to do in Seattle, we headed to the meeting point of the Seattle Underground Tour location.

Pioneer Square
The Pioneer Square Pergola – the original transfer station for the 1962 World’s Fair.

We immediately noticed how beautiful the area was. From the tree canopied parks to the historic brick and stone structures around us, it was truly a beautiful sight to see.

As we headed to our location we ended up in front of a beautiful curved pergola. It had a glass top and it seemed to be a focus of the park that we were walking through.

As we completed the tour, we found at this shelter was built for the 1962 World’s Fair. It’s served as the main transfer station from the city. And today, it still stands to highlight Pioneer Square.

the skylight sidewalk
There are beautiful rectangles on the sidewalks around Pioneer Square. However, they weren’t always just for decorations.

However, Pioneer Square wasn’t always this beautiful. And that is where the Seattle Underground Tour begins.

Although I won’t get into great depth on everything we learned on the tour, there is a little history that must be told.

The History of Seattle Underground Tour

In the late 1880’s the buildings in the city were built out of wood and the streets were basically built out of mud and saw dust.

With Elliott Bay so close in proximity, and with the Seattle weather, the roads never hardened.

A few years later the invention of the toilet changed everything. And although this was supposed to be a one way drain to the bay below, that didn’t happen.

the crapper
The installation of the toilet virtually ruined Pioneer Square.

What did happen was that when the high tide came in twice a day, the sewage lines would back up and come back up through the toilets themselves.

As you can imagine, this caused Pioneer Square to be an unwelcoming town for both the residents and the visitors.

However, the problem took care of itself when in 1889 when a fire destroyed the entire area.

The Rebuilding of the City

In order to prevent such a disastrous event from occurring again, the government determined that only brick and stone buildings could be built in future.

underground seattle
This once was the first floor of a building, before they built the road above.

And due to the horrific conditions of the roads, they would now be raised to prevent any chance of water from the bay softening them.

Unfortunately for the business owners and residents, the roads would take at least 10 years to build.

Not wanting to wait that long, the individual property owners began to build their businesses immediately.

Here is where the Seattle Underground story takes place. When the roads were finally completed, the first floor level of each of the buildings were below street level.

seatlle underground tour skylight
The rectangles that are in the sidewalks above also served as skylights for the town below.

Therefore, the first floors were now underground. Then there became the issues of connecting the road to the buildings via a sidewalk. This was the only solution to get a front street entrance.

And when this finally happened, it left a whole underground path around Pioneer Square.

As you can imagine, over the years, there have been some interesting stories that have arisen about the shady activities that have happened in this area.

seattle underground tour hotel
There is still evidence of a time period that once was – 75 cents per hour for a hotel room.

From madams of the night soliciting customers to running a speak easy underground, the stories are endless.

And if only the streets could talk….

The Fremont Troll

After our fun filled time exploring Pioneer Square and the streets below Seattle, it was time to head north to visit our nephew.

However, we knew that we had to make a quick stop in Fremont to visit the iconic Fremont Troll.

Fremont Troll
The Fremont Troll that literally sits under the bridge.

Although we wanted to spend some time exploring the funky town of Fremont (that is how locals described it to us), we knew that we only had time to quickly pass through.

But that did allow us enough time to view the troll that lives under the bridge. Originally part of an art contest, the winning troll sculpture is one that draws thousands of visitors every year.

And I would have to say, the sheer size and massive structure that now occupies the space, that once was an area of crime and homeless activity, is a strangely, beautiful sight.

Our First Visit With Family

And finally, after being on the road for 58 days, we have made it to the home of a family member.

Our nephew, Jim and his wife Maddie have lived in the Seattle area for several years.

We enjoyed our visit to see our first family member on our trip. Our nephew Jim hosted us for a roof top drink of wine overlooking the city.

We have seen them a few times over the past couple of years, but always in Ohio when they came back to visit.

It was fantastic to finally make it to their stomping grounds and visit them in their own home.

Although the visit could never be long enough and we would have loved to stay longer, we knew that we had to continue down the road to get to the next state.

So now our newest conversation has turned to wondering who will be the next family member that we will visit on our trip around the country.

Happy Traveling – Jim and Mary


  • Day 58 of 365
  • States Visited 9 / 50
  • National Parks / Monuments Visited : 10
  • Stayed In : Lacey, Washington
  • Miles Driven : 67.3
  • Total Trip Miles To Date : 7160.8
  • Total Gallons Used : 538.40
  • Biking Miles : 0
  • Biking Miles To Date : 133.0
  • Hiking Miles : 0
  • Hiking Miles To Date : 140.2

On September 9th, 2019, we set out in our NuCamp T@B 400 Teardrop Camper to travel to every state. You can check out all of our dates here : Dates for the States

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Kathie Daniels

Wednesday 13th of November 2019

We too thoroughly enjoyed the underground tour, definitely one of thehighlights of our trip! We love following your adventures. ? Kathie


Wednesday 13th of November 2019

Thank you Kathie!!!