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Facts About Washington's History: 7 Things You Might Not Know

By    |   Friday, 03 April 2015 04:03 PM

Before Washington became a state, it was the Columbia Territory, named after the river. When it was granted statehood in 1889, the name was changed to Washington, the only state in the country named after a U.S. president.

Here are seven facts you might not know about this western state:

1. Because of its abundant natural resources, Washington became known as the "Pennsylvania of the West." According to the Secretary of State's website, it "was touted as 'a region of such illimitable wealth of soil, iron, coal, and lumber, as fairly entitles it to the name of the 'Pennsylvania of the West.'"

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2. While the Pentagon is known as one of the largest office buildings in the world, it does not even come close to the world's largest building in terms of volume. That distinction goes the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington. At over 472 million cubic feet, the building is home to the production lines for Boeing's 747, 767, 777, 787, and 787 Dreamliner airplanes, according to the company's website.

3. The Hoh Rain Forest, located on the Olympic Peninsula, is among the rainiest places in the world and the only rainforest in the continental United States. Each year, Mount Olympus receives over 200 inches of precipitation, mainly snow. Part of the Olympic National Park, its management is overseen by the National Park Service.

4. Seattle was the location of one of the first general strikes in U.S. history. In February 1919, over 130 unions, involving close to 60,000 workers, shut down the city and made national news. While the workers may have had legitimate grievances, the public at large did not see it that way, according to the University of Washington library.

Occurring only two years after the Communist Revolution in Russia, many people felt this was the beginning of a Bolshevik-style revolution. While largely considered a failure at this point, University of Washington Professor James Gregory claims the strike is "part of Seattle's historical DNA."

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5. While Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is more commonly known for its participation in the Manhattan Project, Washington state played a crucial role in the development of the atomic bombs used in World War II. General Leslie Groves, commander of the Manhattan Project, wanted a site far away from the uranium production facility in Tennessee, according to HistoryLink.org.

After scouting potential sites, Hanford was chosen because it fulfilled virtually all of their requirements. Many residents were evicted under eminent domain. Residents were only told that their land was being used for the war effort, according to HistoryLink.org.

6. Long known for being a top producer in apples, responsible for 70 percent of the U.S. production, Washington is among the top producing states in several other crops as well. It produces over $1 billion in wheat each year, despite being far away from the more traditional wheat producing states in the Midwest.

The state is also the leading grower of sweet cherries, pears, hops, peppermint and spearmint oils, wrinkled seed peas, Concord grapes, green peas, carrots, and red raspberries. The reasons for this high production is due not only to climate and good soil, but because of deep water ports, which puts the state in a good position to export their crops to other countries, usually in Asia, according to the State Department of Agriculture.

7. Washington is home to the Seattle Mariners, but also to two of the Mariners' minor league affiliates. The first is the Everett AquaSox, a Single A team that plays games in Everett Memorial Stadium. Last year was not a good year for the AquaSox, which finished with 28 wins and 48 losses, last place for their division. The other farm team, the Tacoma Rainiers, is a Triple A affiliate, plays in Cheney Stadium. They finished third in their division last year with a record of 74 wins and 70 losses.

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Before Washington became a state, it was the Columbia Territory, named after the river. When it was granted statehood in 1889, the name was changed to Washington, the only state in the country named after a U.S. president.
facts about washington, history
Friday, 03 April 2015 04:03 PM
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