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Page 1 of 3 of the Yelm Area of Interest.
The word “Yelm” comes from the Coastal Salish word “shelm” which means “shimmering heat waves from the sun.” Inhabited originally by members of the Nisqually Indian Tribe, first permanent American settlers came in 1853 to join the Hudson’s Bay Company sheep farmers who were already in the area.

With the coming of the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1873, Yelm began to prosper having found an outlet for its agricultural and forestry products. Its economic base was further enhanced in the early 1900s when an irrigation company was formed in 1916, making Yelm a center for production of beans, cucumbers, and berries.
Information courtesy of (1) Thurston County Historic Commission.