When first posted as such in January 1964, SR 161 started in Eatonville and headed north via Puyallup to Jct SR 18 in what is now Federal Way. In 1967 SR 161 was extended south from Eatonville to Jct SR 7. In the easly 1970s, the SR 512 freeway was extended into Puyallup and North Puyallup and the SR 167 freeway was built from the North Puyallup area via Sumner to E 32nd St north of Sumner. SR 161 was switched from its route thru Downtown Puyallup to overlap SR 512 and SR 167 in the Puyallup area. Today SR 161 is 36.17 miles long.
Before 1964, SR 161 from Downtown Puyallup to South Hill was part of SSH 5G and from South Hill to Eatonville, SSH 5N.
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