Washington State Facts

The state of Washington was named for George Washington. When at the 32nd Congress (1851-1853) the creation of the territory of Columbia was put into law, it was decided that the state’s name was Washington. The state capital is the city of Olympia.

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Washington is the smallest state in the area west of Iowa, and the state has many faces. In the west, we find the rainy lands while in the eastern desert lands, beyond the Cascade Mountains, you can travel for miles without seeing a single tree, and both these portions of Washington are important for agricultural produce.

In the western parts of the state, you can find the ports where ships from all across the world dock, and where fishing fleets catch halibut, salmon, and all sorts of other fish that flock the Pacific. Washington is also a lumbering state and a nationwide leader in flower bulb production, cattle raising, dairy farming, and fruit, wheat, and vegetable crops.

Don’t count out the impact of high tech (Microsoft), and also Boeing plays a significant role in the state’s economy, as does Starbucks. The impressive Grand Coulee Dam (on the Columbia River) is truly one of the world’s greatest masonry achievements, and Seattle is often named ‘America’s most livable’ city.

Quick Facts about Washington

– Washington provides 10% of all timber growth in America.
– It produces one-third of America’s hydroelectric power.
– The state is leading the world in apple production.
– It has the largest farm reclamation project in the world.
– Washington leads the nation in cherries, rhubarb, hops, and peas.
– It leads the nation in the production of vegetable seeds.
– Washington boasts a one-of-a-kind rain forest on the Olympic Peninsula.

Washington brief history

In 1592, Juan de Fuca probably already sailed along the shores of Washington, yet the first documented exploration happened in 1774 by Juan Perez.

In 1775,  Juan de Bodega y Quadra and Bruno Heceta were, as far as we know, the first European explorers who came to the area that we know as Washington as they claimed the region for the Spanish Kingdom.

In 1792, Captain George Vancouver discovered Puget Sound, and in that same year, Captain Robert Gray went as far as the Columbia River, sailed up the river’s treacherous mouth, and put his ship ashore at where now is Fort Columbia.

From the east, William Clark and Meriwether Lewis’ great expedition made the passage down the dangerous Snake and Columbia rivers to arrive at Washington’s coast in November of the year 1805.

Meriwether Lewis wrote:
… here is great joy in the camp as we are looking at the impressive Pacific Ocean… We have been anxious for so long, and the roaring of all the noise caused by the waves….can be heard distinctly…

The Lewis and Clark expedition started out on their return on March 23rd, 1806. They traded with Indians who they had met earlier on their journey and they were happy to treat their ailments.

Then later in 1810, David Thompson founded the trading post of Spokane House. Fort Vancouver, the first European settlement in the region, was established in 1824, and this became an important trading post as well.

By the year 1828, Fort Vancouver was a piece of civilization in the rough Pacific Northwest region. It was led by British fur trader Dr. John McLoughlin, who was well-known in the entire West for his kindness and hospitality towards those in need.

His activities, though, brought him in trouble with both the British and American authorities, and McLoughlin later became the ‘man with no country’.

Dr. Marcus Whitman founded a mission in 1836 named Waiilatpu. He set up the mission at a site close to what is now Walla Walla. Both Britain and the United States were claiming the area but the present-day boundaries of the state of Washington were settled in 1846. The Waiilatpu mission came under attack of the Cayuse Indians in 1847, and Dr. Whitman and his wife were murdered.

In 1889, on November 11th, Washington became part of the United States, and in 1909 the city of Seattle was hosting the famous Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition.

More than 68,000 Washingtonians were called to service during World War I, and in World War II, at the secret Richland installations, the development of nuclear materials was carried out, and also Washington’s production of ships and airplanes were contributing to America’s war efforts.

Both the cities of Seattle and Spokane held World Fairs in respectively 1962 and 1974, and the horrific explosion of Mount St. Helens in 1980 (on May 18th), was the worst disaster in years.