Washington: Okanogan County

Okanogan County (pop. 41,120) is Washington’s largest county, in square miles. It is pronounced “oak-a-NOG-in.”

The Columbia River is the county’s southern border.

The 115-mile Okanogan River flows from north to south through the county. The river begins in British Columbia.

Okanogan River Valley, near Riverside

In Canada, the river and the region are spelled “Okanagan,” not “Okanogan.”

The county seat of Okanogan County is the city of Okanogan (pop. 2,552).

Okanogan County Courthouse (1914)

The county’s largest city is Omak (pop. 4,845), located nine miles northeast of Okanogan.

Omak Theater (1939)

Just east of Omak, above Omak Lake on the Colville Indian Reservation, is the Omak Rock. This balanced rock was carried from its original location by Ice Age glaciers.

Such rocks are known as “glacial erratics.”

For more than 70 years, Omak has had an annual Suicide Race – a horse race that goes 225 feet down Suicide Hill, a 62-degree slope, to the Okanogan River.

Part of the Omak Stampede rodeo

On the Colville Reservation, Chief Joseph (1840-1904), leader of the Wallowa band of the Nez Perce, is buried in the town of Nespelem (pop. 236).

Chief Joseph Memorial

South of Nespelem, the Grand Coulee Dam (1942) crosses the Columbia River between Okanogan and Grant counties.

American’s largest producer of electricity


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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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