The state of Washington sits in the northwest corner of the contiguous United States. It’s bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, Canada to the north, Oregon to the south, and Idaho to the east.
When you think of Washington, you might think of US President George Washington, Starbucks Coffee Company, and beautiful scenery. But these are just a handful of things that the state is known for. To explore all the amazing features of this US region, here are the most interesting facts about Washington state.
You may be familiar with some of these Washington facts, but a few of them might also surprise you. This list will leave you with a better understanding and appreciation for just how wonderful this state is.
Washington was the 42nd state in the US to join the union. It was founded on November 11, 1889. Montana, which is the 41st state, was admitted only three days earlier. Before statehood, it was known as Washington Territory.
Washington is named after United States President George Washington. It’s the only state to be named after a president. The state flag also features a portrait of Washington.
The nickname was coined by pioneer C.T. Conover due to the state’s abundance of forests, which cover just over half the state.
One of Washington’s colleges is even called “The Evergreen State College”. It’s located in Olympia, the capital city.
In 1969, Skamania County, Washington, passed a law against the slaying of Bigfoot (also referred to as Sasquatch). They deemed it a felony punishable by five years in prison. However, the ordinance was originally an April fools day joke, as it was created on April 1, 1969.
However, the idea of Bigfoot started to gain popularity. It began attracting more people to Washington with the intention of tracking down and hunting the massive mythical creature. That meant the area saw more visitors armed with deadly weapons.
To protect the local community, the law has since been amended. It now classifies Bigfoot as an endangered species, which means it’s illegal to hunt him.
Since Bigfoot is said to inhabit forests of North America, it would make sense that Washington (the Evergreen State) has more reported sightings than any other state.
The reported number of Bigfoot sightings in Washington is about 8.9 for every 100,000 people. Other states with similar supposed Bigfoot sightings include Oregon, California, West Virginia, Idaho, and Montana.
Washington grows more apples than any other US state, producing more than half the nation’s domestically grown apples. It’s been the top apple-growing state since the 1920s. This makes one wonder why New York got the nickname ‘The Big Apple’ instead of Washington.
The state also leads in pear, sweet cherry, frozen raspberry, and spearmint oil production.
Going off of our last apple fact, it should come as no surprise that the official state fruit of Washington is the apple. With nutrient-rich soil, abundant water sources, and an arid climate, Washington’s apple orchards are able to thrive.
The most popular apple varieties grown in Washington are Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Braeburn, Jonagold, and Cameo.
About 10 to 12 billion Washington apples are harvested each year. To avoid bruising, each one is picked by hand.
The Rainier Cherry was developed in Washington in 1952. It was named after Washington’s beautiful Mount Rainier. This cultivated variety is a cross between the Van and Bing cherry cultivars.
Rainier Cherries have a creamy-yellow colored outer skin. They are exceptionally sweet and usually more watery than other cherry varieties. They are also grown in Oregon and California.
King County is the most populous county in Washington. It was originally named after the 13th Vice President of the United States, William Rufus DeVane King, who served under Franklin Pierce.
In 1986, a motion was put forth to change the county’s namesake. William King was a slave owner who maintained his well-off lifestyle by oppressing black Americans. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, on the other hand, represented attributes that the citizens of King Country felt proud of.
The change was not officially made, however, until 2005, when Governor Christine Gregorie signed the namesake change into law.
People who live in the state of Washington are known as Washingtonians, the third syllable is pronounced as “tone”. They are also called ‘Toners’, for short.
Several famous Americans hail from the great state of Washington.
Musician Jimi Hendrix was born in Seattle in 1942. Singer and actor Bing Crosby was born in Tacoma in 1903. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates was born in Seattle in 1955. American game show host Bob Barker was born in Darrington in 1923.
The green darner (also known as the common green darner) is one of the most common species of dragonfly in North America. Although, they’re also found all the way from southern Canada to Central America.
The shape of this interesting bug resembles a darning needle. They have a short lifespan and only live for about four to seven weeks.
Starbucks was established in Seattle, Washington in 1971. It was founded by Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker. The name for the store was inspired by ‘Starbuck’, who was the chief mate in the book ‘Moby-Dick’.
There is some mix-up over where the original store was located. Many believe it’s the location at Pike Place Market, in downtown Seattle. However, the first Starbucks cafe was actually opened at 2000 Western Avenue.
After five years, the store moved to the Pike Place Market. This Starbucks location usually gets the credit of being the first store in the city. The cafe still has its early design. It’s a major tourist attraction, especially for coffee lovers visiting the city.
Today, there are more than 33,000 Starbucks stores that operate in 80 different countries. In the US alone, there are more than 15,000 Starbucks stores. The state with the most stores is California.
The city of Longview, in Washington, built a bridge to protect its local squirrel community. The Nutty Narrows Bridge was built in 1963 to address the issue of squirrel safety. Many of the small creatures were being hit by cars as they tried to cross one of the city’s busy roads.
It didn’t take long for the squirrels to catch on to the concept. In fact, the bridge was such a success that several other squirrel bridges have also been built in the city.
The original bridge holds the title of the “World’s Narrowest Bridge” as well as the “World’s Narrowest Animal Crossing.”
Spokane resident Sonora Smart Dodd was the daughter of an American Civil War veteran. She is credited with founding the official American national holiday. Dodd had the idea while listening to a church sermon about Mother’s Day.
The first Father’s Day was observed in Spokane, Washington, on June 19, 1910. Over time, the celebration of the holiday became popular and adopted across the nation. Although it wasn’t until 1972 that US President Richard Nixon designated a permanent national observance of the holiday.
In Seattle, Washington you’ll find the world’s longest floating bridge. The Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, known locally as the 520 Bridge, and officially as the Governor Albert D. Rosellini Bridge, is a six-lane bridge that spans 7,710 feet (2,350 meters).
It crosses over Lake Washington and links Seattle with the next-door city of Bellevue. The lake below is very deep and has a silty bottom. For this reason, solid supporting columns are practically impossible to position. This required the bridge to be supported by pontoons.
The bridge opened in 2016. It was the replacement for the city’s other floating bridge that was built in 1963 and deteriorating. The old bridge, which had the same name as the new bridge, previously held the title as the world’s longest floating bridge. It was 130 feet (40 meters) shorter.
More than 30 US states have official state dances, and Washington is one of them.
This west coast state named ‘The Square Dance’ their official dance in April of 1979. It’s known for its easy-to-learn footwork and sequences.
Twenty-two other US states have also declared the square dance as their official state dance.
Cape Flattery is the northwesternmost point of the contiguous US. It’s located on the Olympic Peninsula, in Clallam County, Washington. This oceanside area is known for its natural beauty, which is best admired from the walking paths and hiking trails around the cape.
There is a hiking trail that takes you to the tip of the Cape. It overlooks the Pacific Ocean and is a wonderful area to see marine mammals, including sea lions, sea otters, and occasionally, whales.
Washington contains the largest artificial island in the US. Harbor Island is located in Seattle, at the mouth of the Duwamish River. It was built in 1909 by the Puget Sound Bridge and Dredging company.
When it was built, it was the largest man-made island in the world. However, it lost this title in 1938 when Treasure Island was built in San Francisco Bay. It then regained the title in 1967 after more area was added onto it. But today, it’s been far surpassed by other artificial islands around the world.
Washington State Ferries is the United States’ most extensive ferry fleet. The company operates a passenger and automobile ferry service as part of the Washington State Department of Transportation.
The vessels travel around Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. They carry about 25 million passengers every year.
Currently, there are eight states that don’t levy a state income tax. These are Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Florida, South Dakota, Nevada, Texas, and Tennessee. New Hampshire also refrains from taxing earned income, but they do impose a small tax on dividends and interest.
The names of Washington’s active volcanoes are Mount St. Helens, Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, and Mount Adams. Each is listed as having a high, or very high threat potential.
They are part of the Cascade Range, a major mountain range in western North America that spans from British Columbia, Canada to northern California.
Mount St. Helens, in Skamania County, Washington, erupted on May 18, 1980. The Volcanic Explosivity Index, which measures from 0 to 8, recorded the explosion as a level 5. As a result, 57 people, and thousands of animals were killed.
The eruption was the most powerful to occur in the contiguous US since the eruption of Lassen Peak, in California, in 1915. The blast also triggered the largest landslide ever recorded. Volcanic ash was also scattered across 11 states as well as several Canadian provinces.
Mount Rainier, (another one of Washington’s active volcanoes) is the highest point in the state. It sits 14,410 feet above sea level. It’s set in Mount Rainier National Park, which is about 60 miles from Seattle
Due to its size and location, it’s considered one of Washington’s most hazardous volcanoes.
The volcano was named in honor of Admiral Peter Rainier, an English soldier who fought for the British in the American Revolutionary War.
The Pacific Northwest was one of the first areas in North America inhabited by animals and humans.
Kennewick Man (also known as “The Ancient One”) is the name given to the skeletal remains of a prehistoric Paleoamerican man. He was discovered in 1996 by two college students next to the Columbia River, in Kennewick, Washington.
The remains are one of the most complete ancient skeletons ever found. Radiocarbon tests date the bones to be from 8,900 to 9,000 calibrated years before present (BP).
As you know by now, there are plenty of trees in Washington. They come in all shapes and sizes, and one even comes with a bicycle in it. Known locally as ‘Bicycle Eaten By A Tree’, this is a quirky and unique Washington attraction.
Located on Vashon Island, in King County, you’ll find a bike that has somehow grown into the trunk of a tree. It’s a bit uncertain how the bike ended up there. No one knows for sure, but many theories say that a boy chained his bike to the tree and either forgot about it, or went off to war and left it there.
As the tree continued to grow, it enveloped the bike with it. The 1950s-era bicycle now rests about seven feet off the ground. If you want to see this strange sight, it’s located just off of Vashon Highway, in a forest, about 50 feet from the road.
During World War II, a bomber-making factory was set up just south of Seattle. In order to keep the factory a secret, and protect it against unexpected aerial attacks, it needed to be hidden.
Boeing decided to entirely camouflage the factory by covering it with a fake neighborhood scene. It was created by Hollywood set designer John Stewart Detlie.
The simulated neighborhood spanned 23 acres. It included fake houses, fake buildings, fake cars, and fake trees. From the air, it looked exactly like a normal neighborhood, but underneath, thousands of WWII bombers were being produced.
There you have it, the most interesting facts about Washington state. From Bigfoot sightings to squirrel bridges and active volcanoes, Washington has a lot of interesting features.
Whether you’re about to take a trip to this gorgeous region of the pacific northwest, or you’re looking for fun state trivia to impress your friends with, hopefully, you’ve enjoyed learning more about this fascinating state.