Between May 23, 1857, and February 9, 1858, near the end of the Yakima Indian War, a contract survey of the Burien area was conducted and submitted to the Surveyor General of the Washington Territory.
Thirteen years after the Denny Party landed, the first transfer of coastal land, 70.55 acres, was made to George Oulett, a 32-year-old single man (document 159) under a cash sales entry dated Dec. 9, 1864. His parcels consisted of most of today’s beachfront on Burien’s northern coastline. Oulett was thus the first landowner along Burien’s coast and inland, preceding any other by more than four years.
Oulett, a farmer born in Canada, and his 24 year-old wife, Elizabeth, were living in Milton Precinct, King County, with their young family of four children in 1880. Of the Oulett’s children, Thomas, born in 1871, was the oldest at nine and was attending school. (Notes from teacher Ella Burton’s attendance book at Sunnydale School show that he was enrolled there in 1882).
Frances, born in 1874, was nearly school age. Josopene was 3, and the youngest daughter, Maud, was a mere five months old. (U.S. Bureau of the Census, Tenth Census – 1880, Vashon and Maury Island, Milton Precinct, King County, Washington, roll T9-1396, page 263-264, National Archives.)
The remainder of Section 12, Township 23 North, Range 3 East stayed vacant for another 18 years. On March 8, 1889, William J. Blackwell purchased 100.65 coastal and inland acres in Section 13 immediately to the south of Oulett’s parcel (document 10352). On August 8, 1889, Charles Kennett and John Lavender purchased 120 acres each. These were the next inland parcels from Stone and Oulett’s parcels. Land sales seemed to move from the shoreline inland. On the 31st of the same month Charles Peacock bought the remaining 160 acres in the northwest section of T23-R3E.
The coming of the railroad opened up new stands of timber. In 1905, the Washington Timber and Logging Company ran a railroad from Seola Beach to a roundhouse at 28th Avenue Southwest and Roxbury. Another rail line ran from Highland Park to Greendale and on to Hick’s Lake. The remnants of the cement pillars that supported the log dumping end of the logging railroad can be seen at Seola Beach to this day.
These logging railroads significantly contributed to accelerating development of the area. As logging opened and cleared an area, the land was subdivided into 5-, 10- and 20-acre parcels for the next wave of settlers. The farmers and land holders worked and cleared land, creating more usable acreage. The resulting pioneer farms were further subdivided in the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s.
(Salmon Creek Neighborhood Plan, City of Burien, October 2004, pp. 7-9)