Historical Markers in
Whitman County, Washington

The Skagit River in northwestern Washington is home to one of the largest wintering bald eagle populations in the continental United States, with up to 400 eagles gathering there during the peak of the season.
Whitman County, located in the eastern part of Washington State, has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The area was originally inhabited by indigenous peoples, including the Palus, Nez Perce, and Spokane tribes, who lived off the land and utilized its resources for sustenance and trade.

In the mid-19th century, European settlers began to arrive in the area. The region was initially explored by fur traders and trappers, and later by surveying teams and missionaries. Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, a missionary couple, established a mission near present-day Walla Walla, which played a significant role in the history of Whitman County. However, their attempts to convert local Native Americans and the subsequent conflicts led to the Whitman Massacre in 1847, a pivotal event in the region's history.

As more settlers moved into the area, agriculture became the predominant industry. The fertile Palouse soils proved ideal for wheat farming, and the county quickly became known as the "Grain Palace of the Nation." Railroads were then constructed, further bolstering the county's agricultural productivity and facilitating trade. The establishment of Washington State University in 1890 in what is now Pullman brought further growth and development to Whitman County.

In the 20th century, Whitman County experienced ups and downs tied to economic fluctuations. The great Depression and the Dust Bowl had a significant impact on the county's agricultural sector. However, the construction of dams and irrigation projects in the 1940s brought about improved water management and renewed agricultural growth. In recent years, the county has diversified its economy, with the expansion of Washington State University and an increasing focus on technology and innovation.

Today, Whitman County continues to thrive as a vibrant agricultural and educational hub. Its rich history and cultural heritage remain significant, making it a fascinating destination for visitors and a place of pride for its residents.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Whitman County, Washington.

  • 1871 - Whitman County is created by the Washington Territorial Legislature.
  • 1872 - The town of Colfax is established as the county seat.
  • 1879 - Washington State University (then Washington Agricultural College and School of Science) is established in Pullman.
  • 1889 - The Great Fire of Pullman destroys most of the town, but it is quickly rebuilt.
  • 1894 - The Palouse River and Coulee City Railroad begins operations, connecting Pullman with the national rail network.
  • 1911 - A major flood affects many towns in Whitman County, causing significant damage.
  • 1960s - The construction of the Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River provides hydroelectric power and recreational opportunities.
  • 1970s - The U.S. Highway 195 is expanded to four lanes, improving transportation in the county.
  • 1980 - The Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport opens, providing commercial air service.
  • 2000s - Washington State University continues to grow and expand its academic programs.