Just the Facts…
bird – Willow Goldfinch flower – Pink Rhododendrun tree – Western Hemlock capital – Olympia union – 42nd state on November 11, 1889 population – almost 7 million
Washington has a very diverse climate – with rainforest along the Pacific Ocean and prairie in the east. A number of mountain ranges are in the western and northern parts of the state, the two biggest being the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges. Some of the prairie just east of mountain ranges are dry because they are in the mountain’s “rainshadow.” You might wonder what that is. Well, it is an area near mountains that does not get much rain because all of the rain dumped on the mountains and there has not been enough time for the clouds to build back up again.
Washington is the only state to be named after a President. It was originally named Columbia, after the Columbia River. But, some people were concerned that it would be confusion to have a state of Columbia as well as the District of Columbia. So, they changed the name to Washington (and there is still confusion, since the District of Columbia is usually called Washington DC!).
Its Claim to Fame
Mount St. Helens was the most recent volcano to erupt in America. It is part of the Cascade mountain range, which has a number of dormant volcanoes. Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980 after an earthquake caused an avalanche. Ash flew about 20 miles up into the air. The whole top of Mount St. Helen’s was blown off – it was over 1,000 feet smaller after the eruption than before! Now, there is a huge crater where there used to be a mountain peak. Over the next few years, a new glacier grew within the crater – how it is over 300 feet thick!
The oldest skeleton in America was found in Washington. It is called the Kenniwick Man and was found along the Columbia River in 1996. About 350 bones were found. After testing the skeleton, scientists determined that it was a man about 45 years old. They also estimated that he is over 5,000 years old!
What Makes it Tick
Apples. Washington has the perfect climate for growing apples – it has been the leading producer of apples for almost 100 years! Washington has a strong farming community in general and grows a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. And, it is a leader in the production of other fruits besides apples – like cherries, pears, raspberries and grapes.
A number of companies are headquartered in Washington that you might recognize - Starbucks, Amazon.com, Nintendo, Microsoft, and Boeing come to mind. Do have a Nintendo Wii? Well, the idea for it probably started at Nintendo’s headquarters in Washington. If you have have a Kindle, it was probably designed in Washington. And, Boeing has been making airplanes in Washington for over 100 years. Maybe you flew in a Boeing the last time you went on an airplane!
If You Visited
There are five floating bridges in Washington. A floating bridge? Yes – these bridges actually float on top of a lake and cars drive on it! The first floating bridge was built in 1940. The idea started when engineers realized that Lake Washington is not only deep, but the bottom is also soft. They would have to dig down about 600 feet before reaching rock that would be strong enough to support traditional concrete bridge towers. So, they got creative! A regular, concrete road is built on top of a series of pontoons that are attached together and then anchored in the lake.
If you visited Washington, you might take a ferry out to an island in Puget Sound. There are over 16 islands in the Puget Sound, many of which are only accessible by boat. Washington is home to the largest fleet of ferry boats in America. There are over 20 boats that stop at over 20 locations!
Want to Know More?
Check our Washington state scrapbook for an industry map, state symbols and information we received from the Governor and Board of Tourism.
Do you live in Washington? Or, maybe you have visited Washington? We want to hear from you!! Post a comment at the end of this page.
- What is your very favorite place in Washington?
- What is your favorite thing to eat?
- What is your favorite thing to do?
- What other special or unique facts do you want to share about your home state?
Do you have any photos of Washington to share? Email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, post them to our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GrandTourKids
Our tour includes just a few things that are interesting and special about Washington. Visit these websites to learn more: