Five Things You Should Know About Washington State
Washington State has a fascinating history! It has been at the forefront of aviation, technology, agriculture, transportation, commerce, and several other categories. Even with that, there are many things that have made Washington State stand out from the other 49 States.
Five things about Washington State caught my attention and are definitely worth sharing.
1. What's in a Name?
Washington State almost wasn't Washington State. During the statehood process, which began after the creation of the Washington Territory in 1853, a number of names were proposed for the part that broke from the Oregon territory. Originally the name "Columbia" was proposed for the new territory, but a Congressman from Kentucky, Richard H. Stanton, felt it was too similar to the District of Columbia and Canada's British Columbia, so that was scrapped.
The idea was to name the territory Tacoma. It was proposed by New York lawyer David Dudley Field II, but that too failed to gain support. Stanton proposed naming the territory after the Nation's first President George Washington and to this day it is the only State named after a United States President.
2. The Honeymoon was Short-Lived
After the creation of the Washington territory, work on a State Constitution began. In 1878 it was written and ratified but wasn't adopted. Statehood would have to wait until a Constitution was accepted and that finally occurred in November of 1889. In June of 1896, the first calls for the eastern part of the state to split from the western part were made in the Coulee City News and it really hasn't stopped.
The most recent attempt was January 2019 with the introduction of legislation that would split Washington State at the Cascade Mountain range. The counties west of the Cascades would remain Washington State, the counties to the east would become Liberty State. The bill has been proposed more than once but has yet to be passed.
3. The Ancient One
In 1996, during the weekend of the annual Columbia Cup hydroplane races along the Columbia River in Kennewick, two men found a human skull. That skull would set off twenty years of speculation as to their origin. The remains were dubbed "Kennewick Man"
While the legal battle raged between the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, scientists, and native American tribes over ownership, anthropologist James Chatters (featured in the above video) made multiple visits to the Columbia River and was able to find more remains and nearly a full skeleton.
In 2015 DNA determined Kennewick Man was closely related to Native Americans. In 2016 the U.S. House and Senate passed legislation to return the bones to Native American tribes in the region. In 2017 the bones were interred at an undisclosed location.
4. Fat Man
The Hanford Nuclear reservation was approved for construction as part of the Manhattan Project in January of 1943 and the B reactor produced its first plutonium in November of 1944. The first batch of plutonium was refined beginning in December of that year until February of 1944 and was sent to one of its sister Manhattan Project sites, Los Alamos in New Mexico. Two more rectors would come online (D and F) in 1944 and 1945 to produce plutonium.
Hanford would refine the plutonium used in the Trinity nuclear test in 1945, the first detonation of a nuclear weapon. Plutonium from Hanford would then be placed in the "Fat Man" bomb. That bomb was dropped from a Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber over Nagasaki on August 9, 1945 effectively ending World War II as Japan would surrender on September 2nd.
5. Wine Me, Dine Me
Washington State's wine industry is not only a significant contributor to the state and local economies, but it also has a strong presence nationwide. There are over 1,000 wineries, north of 400 grape growers, and over 60,000 acres of grapes grown in the state according to the Washington State Wine Commission. Washington is second only to California (which has 4x the amount of wineries) in wine production nationally and it brings in roughly $8 billion annually to the state economy. Salud!
20 Things That Something Only a Washington Native Would Know
Gallery Credit: Rik Mikals
Washington City Nicknames
Gallery Credit: Jaime Skelton