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W elcome  

to the State of Washington


Washington State is in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. The state capital is Olympia and the largest city in Washington is Seattle To avoid confusion with the Nations capital, often  simply called D.C., the state is often called Washington StateWashington is the only state named after a president.

Capital, Olympia.
Largest city, Seattle. 
Motto, Alki [By and By].
State bird, willow goldfinch.
State flower, Western rhododendron.
State tree, Western hemlock.

Visitors are attracted to Mount Rainier, Olympic, and North Cascades National Parks as well as Fort Vancouver and Whitman Mission national historic sites, and Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area. Mt. Saint Helens , which erupted in 1980, is now a national monument.

Washington is bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west, Oregon to the south (the Columbia River forming most of this border), Idaho to the east and British Columbia, Canada to the north.

It is famous for scenery of breathtaking beauty and sharp contrasts. The deep forests of the Olympic Peninsula are among the rainiest places in the world and are the only rainforests in the continental United States, but the flat semi-desert that lies east of the Cascade Range stretches for long distances without a single tree. The eastern side of the state can be divided into two regions: the Okanogan Highlands and the Columbia River Basin. High mountains rise above evergreen forests and sparkling coastal waters.  Mount Rainier, the highest mountain in the state, appears to float on the horizon southeast of Seattle and Tacoma on clear days. 

Washington's coastal location and
Puget Sound harbors give it a leading role in trade with Alaska, Canada, and the Pacific Rim. Puget Sound's many islands are served by one of the largest ferry fleets in the United States. Washington is also notable for being home to four of the five longest floating bridges in the world: the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge and Homer M. Hadley Bridge over Lake Washington, and the Hood Canal Bridge connecting the Olympic and Kitsap Peninsulas

Logging and the forest industry was important in the early development of the state with many Washington cities like Tacoma, Bellingham, Everett, and Anacortes beginning as sawmill centers.  Seattle itself was home to the original "Skid Road".

Much of the land in Eastern Washington is used for dry farming.  Irrigation has converted many of the river many of the river valleys east of the Cascades (especially near Yakima and Wenatchee) into garden areas.  This region contains most of Washington's vineyards.  Since the 1980's, Washington State has become one of the industry's leading wine producers.  Washington leads the country in the production of apples, sweet cherries, and pears.  The state is a major wheat producer, chiefly in the hilly southeastern Palouse area.  Abundant water power and the rich aluminum and magnesium ores found in the Okanogan Highlands in the northeast part of the state have made Washington the nation's leading aluminum producer. 

During the depression era a series of hydroelectric dams were constructed along the Columbia river as part of a project to increase the production of electricity. This culminated in 1941 with the completion of the Grand Coulee Dam, the largest dam in the United States.

During World War II the Puget Sound area became a focus for war industries with the Boeing Company producing many of the nation's heavy bombers and ports in Seattle, Bremerton and Tacoma available for the manufacturing of ships for the war effort. In eastern Washington the Hanford Works atomic energy plant was opened in 1943 and played a major role in the construction of the nation's atomic bombs.

In 1980, the northeast face of Mount St. Helens exploded outward, destroying a large part of the top of the volcano. This eruption flattened the forests, killed 57 people, flooded the Columbia River and its tributaries with ash and mud and blanketed large parts of Washington in ash, making day look like night.

History:  Prior to the arrival of explorers from Europe, this region of the Pacific Coast had many established tribes of Native Americans, each with its own unique culture. Today, they are most notable for their totem poles and their ornately carved canoes and masks.

The first European record of a landing on the Washington coast was by the Spanish claiming all the coastal lands up to the Russian possessions in the north for SpainIn 1778, British explorer Captain James Cook sighted Cape Flattery, at the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Further explorations of the straits were performed by Spanish explorers in 1791, then by British Captain George Vancouver in 1792. The Spanish opened the northwest territory to explorers and trappers from other nations, most notably Britain and then the United States. Captain Robert Gray (for whom Grays Harbor county is named) then discovered the mouth of the Columbia river . In 1805 the Lewis and Clark expedition entered the state on October 10.

Due to the migration along the Oregon Trail, many settlers wandered north to what is now Washington State and settled the Puget Sound area. The first settlement was New Market (now known as Tumwater) in 1846. In 1853 the Northern Pacific railroad line reached Puget Sound, linking the region to the other states. That same year Washington Territory was formed from part of Oregon TerritoryWashington became the 42nd state in the United States on November 11, 1889.

Some information courtesy of

*Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, Copyright (c) 2003.






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Steven L Swanson is a Managing Broker affiliated with Coldwell Banker Danforth, Inc and a Realtor©.

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