In the north, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the intricately branching waterways of Puget Sound between the Cascade and the Olympic ranges occupy trough-like depressions which were filled by extensive glaciers in Pleistocene times; and thus mark the beginning of the great stretch of forded coast which extends northward to Alaska.
A portion of the Puget Sound Basin and a portion of the Coast range are drained by the Chehalis river, which has cut a channel through the Coast range and discharges into Gray's Harbour.
The Puget Sound Basin and the neighbouring slopes of the Cascade and Olympic Mountains are noted for their forests, consisting mainly of giant Douglas fir or Oregon pine (Pseudotsuga Douglasii), but containing also some cedar, spruce and hemlock, a smaller representation of a few other species and a dense undergrowth.
High, commanding fine views of Puget Sound and its wooded islands, and parts of the Cascade and Olympic ranges.
Tacoma is the seat of Whitworth College (1890, Presbyterian), the University of Puget Sound (1903, Methodist Episcopal), the Annie Wright Seminary (1884), a boarding and day school for girls, and the Pacific Lutheran Academy and Business College.
Though there were a few mission stations in the eastern part of the present state of Washington (see Whitman, Marcus), the first permanent American settlement north of the Columbia was made in 1845 on the Des Chutes river, at the head of Puget Sound at the present Tumwater.
There are regular lines of steamers running between Vancouver and Alaska and the points of connexion with the Yukon territory, as well as lines to Puget Sound and San Francisco in the United States.