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Washington (WA): State Guide and Fun Facts

When did Washington become a state?
Washington was the 42nd state admitted to the union of the United States in 1889

Who First Discovered Washington State?
Debatable: Many explorers, including Charles William Barkley, Captain James Cook, John Meares, George Vancouver and Juan Perez, laid claim to discovering parts of what it now Washington State.

First settlers:
Squaxin, Nisqually, Puyallup, Chehalis, Suquamish and Duwamish Native American Tribes

Square Miles:

US Rank:

State Flower:
Western Rhododendron

State Bird:
Willow Goldfinch

State Motto:
“Alki” which means “hope for the future” or “bye and bye”

Capital City

Olympia – Olympia became a city in 1859, long before it was named the capital city of Washington state. Before it became a city, it was inhabited by many of the prehistoric tribes located in the area. Because it was the only city at the time that had been established in the boundaries of Washington state, it was a natural selection for the capital city.


What is Washington Famous For?

1. Starbucks Coffee –
Starbucks, now the largest coffeehouse in the world, saw its humble beginnings in Seattle grow to an international company. It was originally founded by Zev Siegl, Jerry Baldwin and Gordon Bowker in 1971 at Western Avenue. The store was later relocated to Seattle’s Pike Place Market. It has since spread to over 50 countries and 17,800 stores.

2. Microsoft –
Microsoft, the company founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, was begun in Redmond, Washington and remains in the same location today. The company began when the two decided to delve into a world that had yet to be discovered; the world of programming and interpreting with the use of electronics. Microsoft developed in the 1980s with its first two operating systems, Unix and Xenix. Later, DOS became the first operating system to be used by computing devices. The company continued to develop over the years, developing and popularizing the personal computer, turning it into what it has now become.

3. Mount Rainier –
Mount Rainier is located in Washington, and it is the highest mountain in the state, at 13,211 feet above sea level. The mountain is covered with 36 square miles of snow and glaciers and has two volcanic craters located on its peak. The volcanoes are on record as active, however the last recorded eruption was sometime in the mid 1800s. Each year, experienced hikers attempt summit climbs on Mount Rainier. The expedition typically takes between two and three days each way, and about half of those attempting the climb succeeding in their goal. Other forms of recreation that Mount Rainier lends itself to include backcountry skiing, camping, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

What is Washington’s economy?

1. Agriculture – Washington produces a variety of crops and livestock that contribute to its total revenue. The main crops grown in the state include apples (number one apple-producing state), potatoes, nursery products, hay, wheat, hops, sweet corn, mint, barley and Kentucky bluegrass. The main livestock grown for revenue generation include dairy products, milk, beef cattle, calves, aquaculture and chicken eggs.

2. Manufacturing – The main manufacturing industries in Washington state are transportation equipment, aircraft and aeronautics parts. Other manufacturers include computer parts, electronic products, microchips, wireless equipment and medical equipment.

3. Services – The highest grossing services industry in Washington is the personal services sector. This includes community businesses, private health care companies, computer programming companies, engineering companies and law firms. Also included are financial firms, insurance companies and real estate firms.


Washington Historical Landmarks

1. B Reactor – The B Reactor was designed by the EI du Pont de Nemours and Company in 1943. It was the first large-scale nuclear reactor ever built, and it was commissioned in order to research the feasibility of nuclear weapons to be used in World Wars. The reactor is no longer actively used; it has been shut down with the mid 1960s. The area is now monitored and taken care of by the United States Department of Energy. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992 and became a National Historic Landmark in 2008.

2. Paradise Inn – The Paradise Hotel is located within Mount Rainier National Park. It was designed and built in 1916 by Frederick Heath. It is an excellent example of rustic architecture that uses local and natural materials, such as cedar, rock, recycled timbers and a green roof. The building was originally two stories, which included a great hall with two stone fireplaces, a dining room and guest rooms. The inn was recently renovation in 2006 to bring the inn up to structural code.

3. Pioneer Building – The Pioneer Building, located in Pioneer Square in Seattle, was designed by Elmer Fisher in 1892 in the Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style. Fisher was responsible for the design of several of the buildings in the city after the Great Seattle Fire in 1889. After it was built, it served as the location for many businesses in the city. In 1897, during the gold rush that came to Washington, the Pioneer building hosted almost 50 mining companies. The building went through a difficult period in the mid 1900s, but Seattle wished to preserve the history of the district. In 1978, the Pioneer Building was named a National Historic Landmark, preserving it indefinitely from development or demolition.