Published on September 12, 2022, Updated on September 19, 2022
About Pierce County, Washington
Pierce County is a county in the U.S. state of Washington. As of the 2020 census, the population was 921,130, up from 795,225 in 2010, making it the second-most populous county in Washington, behind King County, and the 60th-most populous in the United States. The county seat and largest city is Tacoma. Formed out of Thurston County on December 22, 1852, by the legislature of Oregon Territory, it was named for U.S. President Franklin Pierce. Pierce County is in the Seattle metropolitan area (formally the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA, metropolitan statistical area).
Pierce County is home to Mount Rainier, the tallest mountain and a volcano in the Cascade Range. Its most recent recorded eruption was between 1820 and 1854. There is no imminent risk of eruption, but geologists expect that the volcano will erupt again. If this should happen, parts of Pierce County and the Puyallup Valley would be at risk from lahars, lava, or pyroclastic flows. The Mount Rainier Volcano Lahar Warning System was established in 1998 to assist in the evacuation of the Puyallup River valley in case of eruption.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,806 square miles (4,680 km2), of which 1,670 square miles (4,300 km2) is land and 137 square miles (350 km2) (7.6%) is water. The highest natural point in Washington, Mount Rainier, at 14,410 feet (4,392 m), is located in Pierce County. Rainier is locally called Tahoma or Takhoma, both native names for the mountain.
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department was founded in 1853, shortly after incorporation of the county.
The largest public employer in Pierce County is Joint Base Lewis–McChord, which contributes about 60,000 military and civilian jobs. Pierce County agriculture has been an instrumental part of the local economy for almost 150 years. However, in the last half century much of the county’s farmland has been transformed into residential areas. Pierce County has taken aggressive steps to reverse this trend; the county recently created the Pierce County Farm Advisory Commission.