Grab a pizza at The Carlson Block and munch your way through Wilkeson in Pierce County, stopping at a number of historic sites along the way. If you’re coming from Bonney Lake on state Route 165, you’ll pass under the Wilkeson Arch, which proudly states you are entering the “Gateway to Carbon Glacier.”

Then, take a little walk through town before you hit the road back to Seattle! Don’t forget to wear a mask and practice social distancing if you come across any other pizza-turned-history fans.

The best pizza in Washington is to be found in this former coal town
(Mark Nowlin / The Seattle Times)

The Eagles

534 Church St., Wilkeson

Located in the middle of downtown Wilkeson, directly across the street from The Carlson Block, is a building that is the current home of the Wilkeson Eagles No. 1409, which was originally chartered in 1906. The building, built in 1910, has been home to multiple fraternal organizations over the years, including the Knights of Pythias and Pythian Sisters, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Rebekah Lodges, Ancient Order of Druids, and the Knights of the Mystic Light. Nonmembers are welcome to order food, but to drink alcohol at the Eagles, you must be a member or the guest of a member. Follow the sidewalk in either direction and you’ll be on the Wilkeson portion of the Foothills Trail System; this section of the trail is a 7.9-mile stretch that begins in Cascade Junction, passes through Wilkeson and ends just outside of Carbonado.

Wilkeson Town Hall

540 Church St., Wilkeson

Built in 1923, the sandstone building was originally called the Wilkeson Community House and served as a social and religious center for the Methodist Episcopal Church. It was abandoned in 1946 and purchased by the town for $1,500 before opening as the town hall in 1947. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013. In the parking lot, a large sandstone carving that serves as a memorial to the area’s miners was commissioned for Wilkeson’s centennial celebration in 2009.

Red Caboose

660 Church St., Wilkeson

A train car sits in the middle of Wilkeson, Washington. Wilkeson was first established in 1877 and named for Samuel Wilkeson, a Northern Pacific Railroad secretary who noted coal veins in the area and lobbied the company to extend the railroad line out from Tacoma. 
(Amanda Snyder / The Seattle Times)

Perched on the corner where Railroad Avenue splits off from Church Street is a vintage red caboose. There’s a picnic table and a plaque set atop a hunk of sandstone that details Wilkeson’s railway history.

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Wilkeson School

640 Railroad Ave., Wilkeson

The Wilkeson School, built in 1912, was one of Washington’s first multiclassroom schools, and is the oldest still-operating school in the state. Its impressive three-story sandstone building with a copper-jacketed cupola was designed by Frederick Heath, designer of Tacoma’s Stadium High School, Stadium Bowl and the National Realty Building. (Amanda Snyder / The Seattle Times)

The impressive three-story building topped with a copper-jacketed cupola was built from Wilkeson sandstone and designed by Tacoma architect Frederick Heath. It’s located in what was once called uptown in Wilkeson, an area once filled with housing for miners and their families.

Wilkeson Historic Coke Ovens

Railroad Avenue, Wilkeson

Just east of the school as Railroad Avenue turns into Quinnon Extended are the historic coke ovens, where tons of bituminous coal were smelted into coke. Walk among the remains of the powerful ovens, just a handful of the 160 that originally populated the area in Wilkeson’s coal heyday. If you continue on Quinnon Extended, you will run into the old Wilkeson Sandstone Quarry, which is closed to the public, as it is privately owned.