Showing 1 - 20 of 39 results
Adams County -- Thumbnail History
Adams County is a predominantly rural county located in southeastern Washington, with Ritzville serving as county seat. Since 1952 Columbia River water brought through the Columbia Basin Project has irrigated region's fertile volcanic soil. Adams County measures 1,925 square miles, ranking it 14th in size among Washington's 39 counties. It is bordered to the north by Lincoln County, to the east by Whitman County, to the south by Franklin County, and to the west by Grant County. As of 2005, Adams County has a population of 17,000, two-thirds of whom live in rural parts of the county. Othello (population 6,120) and Ritzville (population 1,730) are the largest towns. Agricultural pursuits include dry-land wheat farming, irrigated apple orchards, and field crops (primarily potatoes). The vegetable- and fruit-processing industry, especially potato processing and French fry manufacturing, provides most of the county's industrial employment. As of 2006, Adams County's population was 52 percent Hispanic, with most Hispanic residents being of Mexican heritage.
File 7835: Full Text >
Asotin County -- Thumbnail History
Asotin County, formed out of Garfield County in 1883, is located in extreme southeastern Washington. In the 2000 Census, the county population was 20,551, and the population of Clarkston, its largest town, was 7,337. The county seat is the small town (pop. 1,095 in 2000) of Asotin, seven miles south of Clarkston. At 636 square miles, Asotin County is the sixth-smallest county in the state. It has a fertile agricultural region in the north-central region, while farther south, the terrain becomes more rugged and is marked by creeks and gullies. Elevations dip to as low as 740 feet in the northeastern corner near Clarkston, and rise to exceed 6,000 feet in the extreme southwestern region in the Blue Mountains. Asotin County's history has been primarily an agricultural one centered on farming and fruit orchards.
File 7643: Full Text >
Benton County -- Thumbnail History
Benton County is located in the southeastern portion of Washington state at the confluence of the Columbia, Snake, and Yakima rivers. The land, part of the semi-arid Columbia Basin, lies in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains and is naturally dry. But the soil is fertile and supports native plants such as bunch grasses and sagebrush. This vegetation in turn supported the deer and elk that Native Americans hunted, and later, the cattle and sheep of non-Indian settlers. Irrigation began in the 1890s with water drawn from the Columbia River. Farm crops then flourished, including wheat, alfalfa, grapes, strawberries, and potatoes. That same Columbia River was one factor that caused the federal government to choose Benton County for a secret wartime plant, the Hanford Works, that would develop plutonium for the atomic bomb. After the war, Congress created the Atomic Energy Commission, which took over operation of the 600-square-mile Hanford Atomic Reservation, and work continued on government projects that included the use of nuclear energy to generate electricity. Today the county's two main industries are nuclear power and agriculture. Wineries are growing in importance.
File 5671: Full Text >
Chelan County -- Thumbnail History
Chelan County embraces the drainages of the Wenatchee River, the Entiat River, and Lake Chelan, and the Chelan River for a total of 2,920 square miles. Irrigation has transformed the arid valleys into agricultural treasure houses and the home to Washington apples and the ubiquitous Aplet and Cotlet confections. Hydroelectric development has lived up to the Wenatchee Daily World's
claim, first made in the 1920s, that the region is the "The Buckle of the Power Belt of the Great Northwest." Almost 90 percent of the county is owned by the state and federal governments.
File 7624: Full Text >
Clallam County -- Thumbnail History
Clallam County occupies the northern portion of the Olympic Peninsula, extending nearly 100 miles along the Strait of Juan de Fuca on its north and more than 35 miles along the Pacific Coast on its west. On the east and the south it borders Jefferson County, out of which it was created in 1854. The county is composed of the traditional lands of the Klallam (for whom it is named), Makah, and Quileute peoples, who continue to play significant roles in county history. It was one of the first parts of Washington contacted by European explorers in the late 1700s, but did not see permanent settlement until after 1850. Seemingly endless stands of Douglas fir, red cedar, western hemlock, Sitka spruce, and other giant conifers made timber the county's economic mainstay for most of its history. As techniques for felling, transporting, and processing the massive trees improved, much of the forest was cut, although the central wilderness is preserved in Olympic National Park. Forestry remains important, but government and service industries are now the leading employers. Port Angeles has been the county seat since 1890, the year it incorporated. Sequim (1913) and Forks (1945) are the other two incorporated cities in the county, whose total population in 2005 is 66,800.
File 7576: Full Text >
Clark County -- Thumbnail History
Local history buffs call Clark County the "Cradle of Pacific Northwest History," reflecting the importance of the 628-square-mile southwestern Washington county as the scene of key historical developments. Here the Lewis and Clark expedition arrived in 1805, the British Hudson's Bay Company established Fort Vancouver in 1825, and the town of Vancouver was incorporated in 1857. The county's location first made it an entrepot (trading center), then an agricultural area.The region developed in agriculture, lumber, and fishing, and later in shipbuilding and aluminum. In recent times, energy from hydroelectric projects on the Lewis and Columbia rivers has fueled development as a manufacturing center.
File 5644: Full Text >
Columbia County -- Thumbnail History
Columbia County, in southeastern Washington, has a population of 4,064 (in 2000), making it one of the more sparsely populated of Washington's 39 counties. At 868.8 square miles, it is the ninth-smallest county in the state. It is bordered by Whitman County and the Snake River to the north, Walla Walla County to the west, Garfield County to the east, and the Oregon state line to the south. The mainly agricultural county was carved out of Walla Walla County in 1875. It is known for asparagus, green peas, and especially wheat, with ranching and logging also playing a significant role. Agriculture and food processing still dominate the economy, with manufacturing and government representing the majority of the county's nonagricultural employment. Dayton, the largest town and county seat, recorded a population of 2,655 in the 2000 Census. Dayton is well known for the historic preservation of its downtown.
File 7801: Full Text >
Cowlitz County -- Thumbnail History
One of the original counties of Washington Territory, Cowlitz County occupies the lower portion of the Cowlitz River and part of Washington's shore of the Columbia River. One of the early conventions to form Washington Territory met at Monticello, which later became Longview. Logging and milling have historically been the big part of the county's economy until the latter part of the twentieth century. A lumber mill led directly to the planned community of Longview, named after lumberman Robert A. Long (1850-1934).
File 7482: Full Text >
Douglas County -- Thumbnail History
Douglas County is a predominantly rural county located in north central Washington. Waterville is the county seat. The county's proximity to Grand Coulee Dam just over the county line (spanning the Columbia River between Okanogan and Grant counties), as well as the four Columbia River dams within the county have over time provided work for thousands of Douglas County residents. The county comprises 1821 square miles, and ranks 17th in size among Washington's 39 counties. The Columbia River, either flowing through its channel or constricted in equalizing reservoirs behind dams, almost completely encircles Douglas County, which is bordered by Chelan County to the west, Okanogan County to the north, Grant County to the east/southeast, and a small part of Kittitas County to the south. As of June 2006 Douglas County had an estimated population of 35,700. East Wenatchee (population 11,420) and Bridgeport (population 2075) are the largest towns. Agriculture, especially apple, pear, and cherry orchards, and wheat, provides a significant percentage of the county's employment.
File 7961: Full Text >
Ferry County -- Thumbnail History
Ferry County, carved out of Stevens County in 1899, is bounded by British Columbia on the north, Stevens County on the east, Lincoln County on the southwest, and Okanogan County on the west. Its county seat is Republic. Ferry County is 2,257 square miles in area. By the 2000 census, the population was 7,260, with a density of 3.3 per square mile, the lowest of Washington counties. The Colville National Forest and the Colville Indian Reservation occupy large tracts of land within the county. Historically, Ferry County's prosperity was based on gold mining, timber, and agriculture. Today there is little mining, and timber and agriculture have declined from their former importance. Yet much of the scenic beauty of Ferry County remains undiminished, and tourism, hunting, and fishing help sustain the economy.
File 7787: Full Text >
Franklin County -- Thumbnail History
Franklin County is situated in south-central Washington state. The Columbia River forms its western border and the Snake River forms the southern and eastern borders. The shrub-steppe terrain is composed mainly of bunchgrass and sagebrush. There is little rainfall, but the soil is fertile and can grow anything with adequate moisture. Native Americans long hunted game and fished for salmon in the area. White prospectors traveled through in the 1850s on their way to the gold rush in British Columbia and some stayed to raise sheep and plant orchards. Then the railroads came, securing the county's future. The Washington Territorial Legislature created the county on November 28, 1883, out of part of the old Whitman County. It was named for the American stateman Ben Franklin (1706-1790). Franklin County's first permanent settlements were railroad stations. The towns grew steadily as irrigation methods improved after the completion of Grand Coulee Dam. Agriculture remains the basis of the economy. With its strategic position on the Columbia River, Pasco became the county's seat and largest city. Pasco and its sister cities across the Columbia River, Richland and Kennewick, are collectively known as the Tri-Cities. The county boomed during World War II years, when the Hanford Nuclear Reservation brought large numbers of workers into the region. The population has grown steadily and in recent years Franklin County became the first Hispanic-majority county in the Pacific Northwest. It is also the region's fastest growing county.
File 7452: Full Text >
Garfield County -- Thumbnail History
Garfield County, located in Southeastern Washington, had a population in 2000 of 2,397, making it the least populated of Washington's 39 counties. Its largest town (and county seat), Pomeroy, recorded a population of 1,517 in the 2000 Census. Agriculture has long dominated Garfield County's economy with farms occupying two-thirds of the land in the county. Wheat has long been the dominant crop, though other grains such as barley also are grown. At 710.5 square miles, Garfield County is the seventh-smallest county in the state. It is bordered by Columbia County to the west, Asotin County to the east, and the Snake River to the north, with the Snake River Canyon in places descending well over 1,000 feet to the river. The Oregon state line marks Garfield County's southern border. The northern part of the county is a fertile plain; farther south elevations rise to the Blue Mountains near the Oregon state line.
File 7728: Full Text >
Grant County -- Thumbnail History
Covering a total of 2,660 square miles, Grant County -- located in the Columbia Basin region of central Washington -- is the state's fourth largest county. It was initially carved out of neighboring Douglas County in 1909. The original (and much larger) Douglas County had been created in 1883 when the Washington Territorial Legislature formed Lincoln and Spokane counties from a larger Spokane County, then separated the new Lincoln County into Lincoln and Douglas Counties only a few days later.
File 8010: Full Text >
Grays Harbor County -- Thumbnail History
Grays Harbor County takes its name from the broad, shallow bay that drains five rivers in southwest Washington. The dense forests of spruce, hemlock, cedar, and Douglas fir attracted loggers and mill operators and at the turn of the twentieth century, communities such as Aberdeen, Hoquiam, Cosmopolis, and Montesano flourished. Immigrant wage earners flooded in to harvest green gold. One hundred years later, the county struggled to reinvent itself without logging, milling, and fishing. The Native Americans who were shoved aside by the settlers reemerged with self-government and new enterprises.
File 7766: Full Text >
Island County -- Thumbnail History
Island County, the eighth oldest county in Washington, was created on January 6, 1853, by the Oregon Territorial Legislature from a portion of Thurston County and was named for the myriad of islands in Northwestern Washington. It originally encompassed Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom, and San Juan Counties. At present, Island County consists of just two large islands, Whidbey and Camano, and six small, uninhabited islands: Smith Island to the west, Deception and Pass islands in Deception Pass, and Ben Ure, Strawberry, and Baby islands in Saratoga Passage. Captain George Vancouver (1758-1798) first explored the area that comprises Island County during the spring of 1792. The county has a total area of 517 square miles; 208.4 square miles of land and 309 square miles of water. In area, it is the second smallest county in Washington. It is bounded on the north by Deception Pass, on the south by Puget Sound, on the east by Skagit Bay and Saratoga Passage, and on the west by Admiralty Inlet and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, Island County had a population of 71,558; 22,477 living in incorporated cities and towns and 49,081 living in unincorporated areas. The county seat is the historic town of Coupeville on Whidbey Island.
File 7523: Full Text >
Jefferson County -- Thumbnail History
Jefferson County, located on the Olympic Peninsula in northwestern Washington, was created by the Oregon Territorial Legislature on December 22, 1852, from a portion of Lewis County. It was named in honor of President Thomas Jefferson who, by commissioning the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806), was instrumental in the exploration of the Pacific Northwest. Jefferson County has an area of 2,184 square miles, 1,814 square miles of land and 369 square miles of water. Approximately 60 percent of the county comprises the Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest; another 20 percent is under the jurisdiction of other federal and state agencies. The Washington Territorial legislature determined the boundary lines in 1877. The county is bounded on the north by Clallam County and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, on the south by Grays Harbor and Mason Counties; on the east by Hood Canal and Admiralty Inlet; and the on the west by the Pacific Ocean. The county seat is Port Townsend.
File 7472: Full Text >
King County -- Thumbnail History
King County, located in Western Washington, covers some 2,100 square miles extending from the crest of the Cascade Range to Puget Sound, including Vashon Island. It is Washington's most populous county and contains its largest city -- Seattle. It is the commercial center of the Pacific Northwest with public and private enterprises including Boeing, Costco, Group Health Cooperative, Washington Mutual, Starbucks Coffee Co., Amazon.com, University of Washington, Microsoft, PACCAR Inc, Weyerhaeuser, Seattle City Light, and the Port of Seattle, which operates the nation's eighth-largest port as well as Sea-Tac International Airport. King County also retains some 1,500 farms, most under 50 acres. For millennia the area was home to peaceful, culturally rich, Lushootseed-speaking tribes. Settlement came in 1852, with lumber, hops, coal, and fish constituting first industries. Historical milestones include the founding of the University of Washington (1861); the Great Seattle Fire (1889); the Klondike gold rush that boomed Seattle (1897); the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (1909); the founding of Seattle City Light (1910) and the Port of Seattle (1911); construction of the Lake Washington Ship Canal (1917) and the Lake Washington Floating Bridge (1940), the latter resulting in the bourgeoning of Eastside communities; the Century 21 World's Fair (1962), and the creation of the county-wide agency Metro (1958) to deal first with water quality and later (1972) with public transit. King County boasts a diverse population, vibrant arts communities and institutions, an expanding economy, an increasingly green outlook and policy orientation, as well as high housing costs and traffic-clogged roads.
File 7905: Full Text >
Kitsap County -- Thumbnail History
Kitsap County, named after a military leader of the Suquamish Tribe, occupies the northern end of the Kitsap Peninsula between Hood Canal and Admiralty Strait. Loggers cleared the dense forests and fed sprawling mills and thriving company towns. Even before the mills went out of business, the U.S. Navy founded the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton, which became the centerpiece of the county's economy and the largest single employer. Water transportation has dominated the county's culture and economy since before settlement. The Washington State Ferry System carries more than half its 25 million passengers back and forth from the east side of Puget Sound to Kitsap County. In 2005, an estimated 240,000 people lived there.
File 7864: Full Text >
Kittitas County -- Thumbnail History
Kittitas County, located at the center of Washington between the Cascade Mountains and the Columbia River, was part of the land ceded by the Yakama Tribe in 1855. Briefly part of Ferguson County (now defunct), then Yakima County, Kittitas County was established on November 24, 1883. Its geographic area is 2,297.2 square miles, placing it eighth in size among Washington counties. Ellensburg, home to Central Washington University and the Ellensburg Rodeo, is county seat. The Kittitas Valley became a stopping place for cowboys driving their herds north toward mining camps in Canada and northwest toward the Seattle/Tacoma market. By the late 1860s, cattle ranchers established land claims and cattle became the area's foremost industry. The completion of a wagon road over Snoqualmie Pass in 1867, the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1887, the discovery of gold in Swauk Creek in 1873 and of coal near Cle Elum in 1883, and the 1932 completion of the Kittitas (irrigation) Project are important turning points in the county's history. Today the main industries are agriculture (including timothy hay to feed racehorses), manufacturing (food processing, lumber, and wood products), and government (including employment at Central Washington University).
File 7484: Full Text >
Klickitat County -- Thumbnail History
Klickitat County, located in south central Washington, has a geographic area of 1,880 square miles and ranks 16th in size among Washington's 39 counties. The area was once home to the Klickitat and Wishram tribes, both of which ceded the land to the U.S. government in 1855. Bordering Klickitat County are Skamania County to the west, Yakima County to the north, and Benton County to the east. The Columbia River forms the southern border. The southernmost portion of the Yakama Indian Reservation extends into northern Klickitat County. The Klickitat and White Salmon rivers, both tributaries of the Columbia, flow through Klickitat County. The county's economy has been based on sheep and cattle raising, wheat, orchards, timber, and aluminum, and the county is home to the Maryhill Museum. Goldendale, population 3,760, is the largest town and county seat. As of 2000, Klickitat County's population is 19,161, two-thirds of whom live in unincorporated portions of the county.
File 7800: Full Text >
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