Me Kwa Mooks Park – West Seattle – 4503 Beach Dr SW, 98116
The Native American Landscape: In the 1850’s, the Alki peninsula was still home to more than 700 Lushootseed-speaking people living in 17 villages. Fish and shellfish were plentiful, and the land was inviting, grassy and open. Some say Me-Kwa-Mooks (from SBAH-quah-books) means “prairie point.” North of the park, between 56th and 59th Avenues SW, a salt marsh led inland to a swamp named Tooh-KO-tub (“Full of Mats”), whose reeds were used to weave blankets, carpets, walls and burial shrouds.
Some say Me-Kwa-Mooks, means “shaped like a bear’s head”, is what the Duwamish tribe called the West Seattle peninsula when the first European-American settlers landed at Alki in 1851.
Today’s Me-Kwa-Mooks Park is land that was the homestead of West Seattle pioneers Ferdinand and Emma Schmitz.
Schmitz Estate: Ferdinand and Emma Schmitz, pioneers from Duisburg, Germany, built their 17-room home here in 1904 on 40 acres, naming it Sans Souci – “without worry.” They piped in water from hillside streams, kept a horse, cow, guinea hens and peacocks, stocked trout in a pond, tended elaborate gardens and an orchard, and raised four children. Emma was strongly opposed to tree removal, so when Ferdinand wanted to cut one down he waited until she’d gone to Seattle for the day.
Pathfinder School: Look closely at the wall at the top of the field, and it will teach you about Duwamish culture and local plants and animals. West Seattle’s Pathfinder School (K-8) adopted the park as an outdoor classroom in 1996, creating the wall, a native plants garden, a plaque honoring the area’s first people and a small amphitheater. Today other groups have joined Pathfinider’s continued efforts to remove invasive ivy, maintain trails and restore stream banks.