Settled by Stephen Hodgden, a gold-seeker from Maine, Tenino earned a spot on the map when the Northern Pacific Railroad created a stop there in 1872. (Despite numerous legends and myths about T-9-0, the town is likely named after the steamship Tenino on the Columbia, named after a collective of tribes now known as the Warm Springs bands.)
Tenino grew into a boomtown in the late 19th century thanks to its supply of sandstone, a resource that was exported to Seattle and San Francisco following those cities’ devastating fires. The pale stone remains the defining architectural feature of many local buildings, even though it fell out of use by the early 20th century. Nowadays, the old quarry serves the community as the town pool, a favorite all-ages activity for residents and visitors alike on a hot day.
That’s not Tenino’s only creative use of resources; its other claim to fame is its wooden money, a local currency created to help locals get through the Great Depression. The scrip was reintroduced and approved by the state auditor as legitimate money during the Covid-19 pandemic to help residents in need and to keep the local economy moving.
Put your money where your mouth is, and take advantage of Tenino’s vibrant dining scene, from lakeside dining at Lady of the Lake Public House to the much-loved Don Juan’s Mexican Kitchen and the stick-to-your-ribs breakfast of Sandstone Cafe. With a full belly, you’ll be powered up to browse Tenino’s signature shops, including Iron Works Boutique, Tenino Antiques Mall, and the oddities of Tenino Time Machine.