Longshoremen unload oysters in downtown Olympia circa 1919.
established in 1878
Dating back to the Gold Rush days, the Olympia Oyster Company began when commercial fishing and lumber businesses were in their infancy. The "Oympia Oyster", the oysters native to the West Coast, spanned from Baja, Mexico to southeastern Alaska. At the center? Washington State. Fearful of overharvesting, which wiped out San Francisco's stock, the Puget Sound harvesters invented a crop management system to ensure a sustainable supply of oysters. Dike construction, as it was referred to, covered the seabed with a series of man-made terraces, filling and leveling the tidelands with shell and gravel, retaining two or three inches of seawater at low tide. This buffer provided natural insulation, protecting the crop from extreme temperature variations.
In the heart of these tidelands grows a native jewel coveted by all who know it: the Olympia oyster. Less than a third the size of a Pacific oyster or Atlantic native, the Olympia oyster is the only oyster native to the West Coast. Delicate in size but bold in flavor, it's commonly described as more elusive, plumper, and sweeter than all the rest.
Over the past nearly one hundred and fifty years, the Olympia Oyster Company has overcome local pollution, marine predators and other various threats that have devastated the species. But with relentless commitment to the health and longevity of the Olympia oyster and other prized Pacific Northwest shellfish, the bay continues to flourish, attracting nationwide attention for its unique flavor and impressive history.