Washington: Adams County

Adams County (pop. 18,728), east of Grant County, is shaped liked a horizontal reflection of Oklahoma.

Adams County in 1909

The 12 Adams counties in the U.S. are named for four different Adamses. This Adams County was named for John Adams (1735-1826), the second president.

The county seat of Adams County is the city of Ritzville (pop. 1,673), one of Washington’s smallest county seats.

Adams County Courthouse (1941)

Ritzville’s Carnegie Library (1907) is still open as the city’s library.

The Ritz Theatre in Ritzville opened in 1937.

Still showing movies

The largest city in Adams County is Othello (pop. 7,364), located in the irrigated agricultural area in the county’s southwestern corner.

Columbia National Wildlife Refuge is just outside Othello.

Ducks landing in a cornfield

The city of Lind (pop. 572) is known for its annual Combine Demolition Derby.

Speeds of up to 15 mph

Adams County is in the middle of the eastern Washington region known as the “Channeled Scablands” – a barren area that apparently resulted from massive flooding, about 13,000 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age.

Near Othello


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Washington: Grant County

Grant County (pop. 89,120) is northwest of Franklin County. It is one of 14 Grant counties (and one Grant parish) in the U.S., most of them named for President Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885).

Including Washington

The Columbia River makes up part of the southern and western borders of the county; the Grand Coulee Dam (on the Columbia) is in the far northeastern corner of the county.

Construction of the Grand Coulee Dam (1933-1942) eventually led to the Columbia Basin Project – the largest water reclamation project in the U.S. As a result, a huge area of former desert in southern Grant County is now irrigated farmland.

More than 40 different crops are grown in the county, including tree fruit, wheat, corn, and a variety of vegetables.

Grant County irrigation

The county seat of Grant County is the city of Ephrata (pop. 7,664).

Grant County Courthouse (1918)

The largest city in Grant County is Moses Lake. Its population was 328 in 1940, before the Columbia Basin Project began. By 1960, the population was 11,299, and in 2010 it was 20,366.

Named for the adjacent lake

The Moses Lake Museum and Art Center has a life-size sculpture of a Columbian mammath, made entirely of farm implements.

14 feet tall

The city of Mattawa (pop. 4,437) has a library constructed with 330 bales of straw, plus wire mesh and stucco.

First one in the U.S.

The city of Soap Lake (pop. 1,514) is the home of the 9-hole, par-3 Lava Links Desert Golf, where golfers play through sagebrush, sand, and desert vegetation.

Suggested donation is $1-$2.

The city of George (Washington) has a population of 501. The “World’s Largest Cherry Pie” is baked there every July 4.

8 feet by 8 feet

Steamboat Rock State Park and Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park are in Grant County.

Steamboat Rock State Park and Banks Lake


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Washington: Franklin County

Franklin County (pop. 78,163) is east of Benton County. It is bordered by the Snake River on the south and the Columbia River on the west.

Franklin County in 1895

Franklin County is in an area of dryland wheat and irrigated fruit and vegetable farming.

The county has several wineries.

Twenty-four of the 25 Franklin counties in the U.S. were named for Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790); the one in Idaho was named for Franklin D. Richards (1821-1899), an early leader of the Mormon Church.

None is named for the comic book character Franklin Richards.

The county seat of Franklin County is the city of Pasco (pop. 59,781), one of Washington’s Tri-Cities, along with Richland and Kennewick.

Pasco’s population has been growing rapidly in recent years – it was 32,066 in 2000 and has reached 77,000 in 2014 – mainly because of the annexation of new developments in the West Pasco area.

West Pasco and the Columbia River

The old Carnegie Library in Pasco is now the Franklin County Historical Museum.

Built in 1910

Amtrak’s “Empire Builder,” between Chicago and Portland, makes its only Tri-Cities stop at the Pasco Intermodal Train Station. Tri-Cities Airport is also in Franklin County, just northwest of Pasco.

Delta, United, Alaska, and Allegiant fly there.

Sacajawea State Park is at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers in Pasco.

Aerial view of Sacajawea State Park

Cinematographer James Wong Howe (1899-1986) was born in China but grew up in Pasco.

He won an Academy Award for “Hud” in 1963.


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Washington: Benton County

Benton County (pop. 175,177) is bordered by the Columbia River on its north, south, and east sides.

Benton County in 1909

It is one of nine Benton counties in the U.S. and one of seven named for Thomas Hart Benton (1782-1858), U.S. senator from Missouri and a strong advocate of the country’s westward expansion.

A senator from 1821 to 1851

Benton County is best known for the 586-square-mile Hanford Site, established in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project to produce plutonium for the first nuclear bombs. The small town of Hanford was abandoned when the Hanford Site was built.

Hanford Site in 1960, along the Columbia River

Today, a main focus at the Hanford Site is the environmental cleanup; the site also has an operating nuclear power plant and various centers of scientific research.

The Hanford Reach is a 51-mile, free-flowing area of the Columbia River, much of it adjacent to the Hanford Site.

Hanford Reach National Monument was created in 2000.

The county seat of Benton County is the city of Prosser (pop. 5,714), located on the Yakima River in the western part of the county.

Benton County Courthouse (1926)

Most of the population of Benton County lives in the Tri-Cities area of Richland, Kennewick, and Pasco. along the Columbia River. Richland and Kennewick are in Benton County.

Kennewick (pop. 73,917) is the largest of the Tri-Cities. It is famous for Kennewick Man, a prehistoric man from about 7000 B.C., who was discovered along the Columbia River there in 1996.

Patrick Stewart on left, Kennewick Man on right

The Cable Bridge (1978), connecting Kennewick and Pasco, is one of seven major bridges in the Tri-Cities area.

Built of prestressed concrete

The 7,700-seat Toyota Center (1988) in Kennewick is the home of the Western Hockey League’s Tri-City Americans and the Indoor Football League’s Tri-Cities Fever.

The Fever were founded in 2005.

Richland (pop. 48,058) is the home of Washington State University Tri-Cities, founded in 1989. At Richland High School, the sports teams are known as the Bombers.

Actress Sharon Tate was Miss Richland of 1959. She was one of five people killed by the Manson Family in 1969 in Los Angeles.

In “The Fearless Vampire Killers” (1967)


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Washington: Walla Walla County

Walla Walla County (pop. 58,781) is bordered by the Snake River on the north, the Columbia River on the west, and Oregon on the south. It was named for the Walla Walla tribe.

“Walla Walla” means “many waters.”

The Walla Walla River begins in the Blue Mountains of Oregon before flowing west through Walla Walla County and entering the Columbia River.

The county seat, the city of Walla Walla (pop. 31,731), is in the southern part of the county, a few miles north of the Oregon border.

The area has more than 100 vineyards.

The 13-story Marcus Whitman Hotel in downtown Walla Walla dates from 1927.

The hotel is named for Dr. Marcus Whitman (1802-1847). Whitman and his wife, Narcissa, started a mission to the Indians in the area in 1836. They died in the “Whitman Massacre” of 1847.

“Great Grave” at Whitman Mission National Historic Site

Whitman College in Walla Walla was founded in 1859. The private, liberal-arts college has about 1,500 students.

Memorial Hall (1899)

William O. Douglas (1898-1980), the longest-serving justice on the U.S. Supreme Court (1939-1975), graduated from Whitman College.

So did Adam West

The Liberty Theater in downtown Walla Wall, built in 1917, is now part of a Macy’s department store.

Craftsman or Art Nouveau style

Walla Walla sweet onions were first developed in the area in about 1900; the seeds came from Corsica.

Walla Walla’s Northern Pacific Railway depot (1914) now has a restaurant.

Passenger service ended in 1956.

Melody Muffler in Walla Walla is known for its “muffler art” metal sculptures created by owner Mike Hammond.

Walla Walla has been the home of the Washington State Penitentiary since 1887.


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Washington: Columbia County

Columbia County (pop. 4,078) is the third-least-populous county in Washington. It reached its peak population of 7,128 in 1900.

Columbia County in 1909

The county is named for the Columbia River; the Snake River, a Columbia tributary, is the county’s northern boundary.

Snake River Bridge at Lyons Ferry (1927)

The county seat of Columbia County is the city of Dayton (pop. 2,526).

Washington’s oldest working courthouse (1887)

Dayton has the oldest surviving railroad depot in the state. It dates from 1881.

Now a museum

The restored Liberty Theater in Dayton was built in 1921. It now has a mixture of films and live performances.

147 seats and a balcony

In the town of Starbuck (pop. 129), the former Bank of Starbuck (1904) is now City Hall.

The coffee company is named for the character in “Moby Dick.”

The Blue Mountains and Umatilla National Forest are in the southern part of the county.

Oregon Butte Lookout

Ski Bluewood is an alpine ski area in the Blue Mountains, southeast of Dayton. It has a vertical drop of 1,125 feet.


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Washington: Garfield County

Garfield County (pop. 2,266) is the least-populous county in Washington. It is one of six Garfield counties in the U.S., all west of the Mississippi and all named for James A. Garfield, the 20th president.

Garfield County is in a wheat-growing area. Its population has declined steadily from a peak of 4,199 in 1910, as farms have gotten larger and farmers have gotten fewer.

Wheat fields south of Pomeroy

The oddly shaped Garfield County is bordered by the Snake River on the north and Oregon on the south.

The county seat of Garfield County is the city of Pomeroy (pop. 1,425) – the county’s only city.

Downtown Pomeroy

The Garfield County Courthouse was built in 1901 in Late Victorian style.

It replaced a wooden courthouse that burned down.

The Seeley Theater in Pomeroy is undergoing restoration.

Built in 1913

A collection of metal animal sculptures can be found along Highway 12, a few miles east of Pomeroy.

Also an alligator, shark, and eagle


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Washington: Asotin County

We begin our virtual trip through the 39 counties of Washington in Asotin County, located in the far southeastern corner of the state. This is the route that we’ll be taking.

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“Asotin” (pronounced “us-OH-tun”) is derived from a Nez Perce word meaning “eel creek.”

A wheat-growing region

The county is bordered by Oregon on the south and by the Snake River and Idaho on the east.

The county seat of  Asotin County is the city of Asotin (pop. 1,251), fourth-smallest county seat in Washington.

On the Snake River

Six miles north of Asotin is Clarkston (pop. 7,229), the county’s largest city. Clarkston is at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers, across the Snake from Lewiston, Idaho.

Clarkston on right

Clarkston and Lewiston, in the Lewis-Clark Valley, were named for Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, who explored the area on their 1804-06 Corps of Discovery Expedition.

They never set foot on the Clarkston side.

Clarkston’s ZIP Code of 99403 is the highest ZIP code in the contiguous United States.

The Lewis-Clark Valley is considered the Gateway to Hells Canyon – the canyon on the Snake River between Oregon and Idaho that is North America’s deepest river gorge.

7,993 feet deep

Fields Spring State Park is in the southern part of the county. It has the only two teepees in Washington state parks – available for campers for $30 per night.

Accommodating up to six persons


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