Delin arrived in the Puget Sound country from Sweden in 1851 by way of San Francisco and Oregon. Sawmills were sprouting up around the sound. A carpenter by trade, he obtained financial backing for a mill. He selected a spot on a stream (Delin Creek) at the mouth of the Puyallup River for his enterprise. With the help of Sam McCaw, Jacob Burnhardt, and William Sales, Delin erected the mill on pilings. Logs were cut with an oscillating muley saw.
Delin eventually claimed 318 acres. Other immigrants settled nearby, including fishermen John Swan and Peter Reilly; cooper Chauncey Baird; Mexican War veterans Jacob Kershner, Peter Runquist, and Carl Gorisch; and Scot Adam Benston. After the Indian War of 1855-1856, none of the settlers returned. Delin sold the mill to James L. Perkins for $3,500, and moved to Seattle, where he helped build the Territorial University. Born Niklas Delin, he was buried following his death in 1882 under a tombstone reading "Nicholas DeLin," although subsequent accounts of his life, by Tacoma history Murray Morgan (1916-2000) and others, use the "Delin" spelling.