Washington State History

Washington state history adds a richness for visitors, so before your trip to the Pacific Northwest, you might want to brush up on your knowledge of Washington’s past. While this state is well known for the fun and attractions of Seattle, there is also a rich history here you can explore if you take the time. Many of these facts about Washington state are connected to the Native Americans that called this region home. Taking the time to learn about the historical side of Washington will enhance your visit whether or not you step foot in a museum. The fascinating history of this state includes tales from the expeditions of Lewis and Clark, disease epidemics, volcanic eruptions, and more.

Washington State history begins with the Native Americans. This region was inhabited by many different tribes, all of whom had their own culture. Today symbols of these distinctive cultures can be seen with the intricately carved totem poles, masks, and canoes you might encounter on your trip. The salmon-rich waters contributed to a secure lifestyle in the region. All of this changed in the 1770s when the smallpox epidemic broke out, devastating the population of Native Americans. The first European set foot on the coastline of Washington in 1775, and history took a severe turn.

There are many facts about Washington State that are connected to the European explorers. Many local residents don’t even know that the first European to set foot on soil here was a Spanish captain named Don Bruno de Heceta and he claimed Prince William Sound for Spain. In 1778 a British ship arrived, and the exploration of the state took place over the next several decades. This period of history includes some very tense moments between the settlers and the Native Americans. Wars broke out over rights to the land, food, and generally for survival.

One striking fact about Washington state history is how drawn people were to the landscape. The Pacific Northwest, with its gorgeous mountains and lakes full of fish, was just as desirable to settlers in the 19th century as it is to visitors in the modern day. In 1889, Washington became the 42nd state in the USA. Significant developments in this period included the establishment of Seattle as a major port for building ships and for trading with Alaska, for large deposits of gold, silver, and copper in Tacoma, and for the development of heavy industry around Puget Sound. All of these factors greatly influenced the development of Washington State.

There is a great deal to learn about Washington regarding the twentieth century and right up to the modern day, and much of it is connected with the growth of Seattle and two major companies: Microsoft and Boeing. Most travelers have heard of both but aren’t aware of the past’s influence on these industries—for instance, during World War II the state manufactured warships and bomber planes. This coastline is also remembered for being the port where many soldiers left for the Pacific during World War II. In more recent history, natural disasters have taken center stage, with Mount St Helens erupting in 1980, causing dozens of deaths and flattening the surrounding forest, and the Nisqually Earthquake in 2000. Mount St Helens is still one of the region’s biggest attractions—you can hike to the crater and enjoy the view from the top.

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