Where the name Ohop came from

September sunrise in Ohop Valley
September sunrise in Ohop Valley

I was just down in the valley checking on cows and shot a couple pictures. Thought this might be a great time to provide an exerpt from Lawrence “Andy” Anderson’s book, In the Shadow of the Mountain, with the origins of the valley’s name.

Two Possible Meanings
“In 1987, a surveyor of the Surveyor General’s Office of Washignton Territory mapped the stream and lake in the valley calling them “Ow-hap River” and “Ow-hap Lake”. The meaning of Owhap is uncertain.

Henry Sicade, early Puyallup tribal leader, wrote that the name means “water suddenly breaking away.” Another source attributes the name Owhap to a native word meaning “pleasant”. Certainly the later is an apt description for this beautiful valley.

Ancient Channel
Ohop Valley is an ancient drainage channel formed by the run-off from the enormous lake in the Puyallup Valley filled with ice-age melt water. Geologists refer to this lake as Lake Puyallup. The lake drained southerly, carrying enormous quantities of water and sediment along the Ohop Valley floor.

Cows and calves grazing in Ohop Valley
Cows and calves grazing in Ohop Valley

Henry Sicade’s explanation of “water suddenly breaking away” seems quite plausible. As the glaciers receded northward, run-off drained through channels at successively lower elevations causing the flow of water through the valley to subside. This event occurred at the end of the last ice age, several thousand years ago. It is possible that early natives observed the sudden cessation of the water through the valley and the story was passed down through the generations.

Throughout the subsequent milleniia deposts of organic sediments created rich soil that would one day be farmed.”

5 thoughts on “Where the name Ohop came from”

  1. Wonderful article. Yes, I have copies of maps that use Ow-hap. It seems very phonetic in spelling. The Mashel is Mis-Shawl in old maps as well.

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