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A snapshot of Clallam County

by Jackson Axley | July 31st, 2015 3:07 pm | No Comments

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Clallam County flag (Images courtesy of Washington State Archives)

The northern part of the Olympic Peninsula is a place where the spectacular Olympic Mountains meet the Strait of Juan de Fuca. For mountaineers trekking up the slopes of the Olympics, a bird’s eye view of Clallam County greets them at the summit. Past the borders of Clallam they may get a glimpse of Canada on a clear day, and to the south they can see the full expanse of the Olympic range.

Clallam gets its name, like many other counties in Washington, from a Native language. The tribe that originally inhabited Clallam referred to themselves as the Nu-sklaim, translating to “the strong people.” However, neighboring tribes referred to them as klo-lub, meaning “the clam people.” Although there are several variations of translations regarding Clallam, it is generally accepted to mean “the brave people.”

Clallam was created by a territorial law in 1854, making it 35 years younger than Washington state. Spanning across the entirety of the northern Olympic Peninsula, Clallam contains 1,753 square miles, making it 20th in size of Washington’s counties. Port Angeles, a beautiful coastal city, serves as the county seat.

In the interior of the Olympic Peninsula, and partly within the borders of Clallam, is Olympic National Park. This park is an internationally acclaimed site that contains mountains, old growth forest, rain forest, and miles of rugged beaches. For those living in Clallam, the mountains are familiar neighbors, but for those who come from around the globe, the Olympics are a once-in-a-lifetime sight.


Hurricane Ridge, located in Olympic National Park, is part of Clallam County.

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I-1366, I-1401 certified, heading to fall ballot


Assistant Secretary of State Mark Neary certifies I-1366 and I-1401.

Two initiatives, one dealing with taxes and the other with endangered animals, officially have the green light to go onto the General Election ballot this fall. Assistant Secretary of State Mark Neary Thursday certified that Initiative 1366 and I-1401 both have enough valid signatures to be placed on the statewide ballot.

I-1366, sponsored by initiative activist Tim Eyman, would make it harder for the Legislature to raise taxes. I-1401, backed by Paul Allen, aims to crack down on trafficking of endangered species and parts.

State Elections Division crews completed scrutiny of voter signatures on a random sampling of the I-1366 petitions and showed that sponsors submitted more than enough names to qualify for a state vote.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman applauded the continuing citizen interest in “direct democracy” via the ballot box:

“About 700,000 people from all over the state with various political views took part in gaining ballot access for the two 2015 initiatives. Ballot measures always seem to generate voter turnout and this year, with no statewide or congressional races, this is an important factor in generating interest.”

To earn a ballot spot takes 246,372 valid signatures of registered Washington voters – 8 percent of the total votes cast in the last governor’s election.  I-1366 sponsors turned in continue reading

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A Snapshot of Chelan County

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Chelan County Flag (image courtesy of the Washington State Archives)

Chelan is third in a series covering Washington’s 39 counties, including how they got their names.


If you look at a map of Washington, you’ll notice a long body of water gently winding across the northern Cascades. This blue swath is not a river, but Lake Chelan, a long, narrow lake that is a scenic icon that draws tourists to the fourth county in our snapshot series, Chelan County.

Chelan is named after the 55-mile-long lake that snakes near its eastern border. Pronounced sha-LAN, the name derives from the Native American phrase “Tsill-ane”, which translates as “deep water.” Lake Chelan certainly qualifies, considering it is up to 1,500 feet deep.

Sprawling Chelan County covers 2,931 square miles, making it the third largest county in Washington. It was established in 1899 out of sections of Okanogan and Kittitas counties, just 10 years after Washington was granted statehood.  With its population of 73,967, Chelan has a population density of about 25 people per square mile, giving it a largely rural feel.

In its expansive territory, Chelan offers beautiful alpine views of snow capped mountains and pine forests. Nestled among the Cascade Mountains are towns such as Wenatchee, the county seat, and Leavenworth, a picturesque Bavarian style town that is home to notable Oktoberfest and Christmas celebrations. A trip to Chelan County offers plenty of sights, recreation, and hospitality.


Leavenworth in autumn (image courtesy of destination360)

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Vote in our July Library Jewels poll!

Since many of you are getting ready to vote in the Primary ending next week, here’s a chance to sharpen your voting skills by taking part in the July edition of the State Library Jewels poll.

This month’s three candidates are a copy of the book Hop Culture in the United States, a copy of the book American Archives, and the book The Marine Mammals of the North-western Coast of North America, by Charles Melville Scammon.

You can select your favorite jewel by going to our online poll (below), which is open until this Friday at 5 p.m.

Hop Culture in the United States

RARE 633.85 MEEKER 1883 pg27facing

American Archives



The Marine Mammals of the North-western Coast of North America


What is your favorite July Library Jewel?

  • Hop Culture in the United States (49%)
  • The Marine Mammals of the North-western Coast of N. America (40%)
  • American Archives (11%)

Total Voters: 75

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July Library Jewel #3: Charles Scammon and Pacific Marine Mammals


Scammon’s illustration of a Gray Whale (image courtesy of flikr)

During the summer months, tourists and Washingtonians alike flock to the San Juan Islands to enjoy the sights and activities, including a possible a glimpse of whales.

Pods of orca, gray, and humpback whales frequent the waters around the scenic islands. They can often be seen on boat tours, ferry rides, and from island vantage points like Lime Kiln Point State Park on San Juan Island.

This month, your Washington State Library dips into its treasure trove to present a literary gem about Washington’s iconic marine mammals: The Marine Mammals of the North-western Coast of North America, by Charles Melville Scammon, circa 1874. This is the third of three “jewels” featured in recent days.  Blog readers will soon have an opportunity to pick their favorite.

Charles Scammon, like many Americans, ventured west during the Gold Rush of 1849. When he arrived, he didn’t pursue riches on land like the prospectors, but instead pursued it by sea. Befitting his middle name, Melville, Scammon led whaling ships off the California and Baja coast throughout the 1860’s and 70’s in pursuit of gray whales. Although he participated in whale hunts, he held a reverence for his quarry that is reflected in his journals.

Scammon condensed his journals into a book, which was one of the most complete guides to Pacific marine mammals available. It is replete with detailed illustrations, scientific observations, and information on the whaling industry. Scammon’s book gives us wonderful descriptions of marine life still found today and also offers a reminder of the impacts humans can have on nature.




An orca pod in Puget Sound (photo courtesy of CBS)

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July Library Jewel #2: `American Archives’




Roster of the 7/15/1776 Convention for the City of Philadelphia (image courtesy of the Washington State Library)

July is the most patriotic month for many Americans. Millions across the nation celebrate American heritage and freedom on Independence Day every Fourth of July. The Washington State Library adds a historical flair to the month this year by showcasing one of their rare books on American history.

The book, American Archives, written by Peter Force, is an expansive collection of letters, debates, public records, and other historical documents that are important to American history. The goal of writing such a book was to provide a historical documentary index of the United States, particularly in regards to the American Revolution and the expansion of the American colonies.

The book is the second Library Jewel nominated for honors by readers of From Our Corner.  Look for the third nominee next week and then take part in an online reader poll.

Author Peter Force was a respected historian and veteran. After serving in the War of 1812, he relocated to Washington, D.C., where he edited the National Journal. Eventually, he became mayor of the city for two consecutive terms.

Although he had an impressive resume of public service, Force’s arguably greatest service was the preservation of essential materials from a turbulent and formative period in America’s history.


A photograph of Peter Force, the author of American Archives (image courtesy of the Library of Congress)

 The first image above includes the name of Benjamin Franklin.

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Non-binding tax advisory votes headed to WA ballot


Four tax advisory votes will be on the statewide ballot this fall, including the transportation funding package, marijuana tax changes and closure of several tax preferences, Secretary of State Kim Wyman says.

The votes, which are nonbinding, are an opportunity for voters to express support or opposition to revenue provisions in bills that passed in the recent legislative sessions. Legislators are not required to do anything with the results.

The advisory votes are mandated under Tim Eyman’s voter-approved I-960. This is the four year the votes have been on the statewide ballot.

The Attorney General determined that four measures triggered such a vote:

In addition, we’re expecting two initiatives to appear on this year’s General Election Ballot. I-1401 has already been certified as receiving enough signatures. State Elections Division crews on Thursday began checking signatures on I-1366.


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July Library Jewel #1: Our hip Hop Culture goes way back

RARE 633.85 MEEKER 1883 pg27facing

A drawing of a hops facility found in Meeker’s book (courtesy of the Washington State Library)


In the hot month of July, nothing better than a cold beer after being out in the sun? Why not chill with a good book while you’re at it? For some beer-related reading, look no further than the State Library’s Hop Culture in the United States, by E. Meeker. It’s part of the Washington State Library collections and is featured as the first Library Jewel for the monthly reader competition.

Published in 1883, six years before statehood, this book covers everything hops related. We in Washington are quite familiar with this beautiful and valuable vine. Many a container includes the phrase “brewed with Yakima Valley hops.” In fact, about 77 percent of the U.S.’s total hop production comes from Yakima Valley. The hops grown there give many Washington beers their slightly bitter, floral, and piney flavor.

When Meeker wrote his book on hops, he was aware that Washington had a special relationship with hops. He outlined the complex and delicate processes used by hops farmers to coax the most flavorful and fragrant cones from their vines. Going into deep detail, he gives the soil conditions, moisture regimes, and storing methods necessary for growing an optimum crop. The further you read into it, the more you appreciate the painstaking work and detail that craftsmen put into their arts, sometimes simply to perfect a subtle and complex flavor.


Farm workers harvesting hops (photo courtesy of pacifichopsupply.com)

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A Snapshot of Benton County

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The flag of Benton County (image courtesy of the Washington State Archives)

Benton is third in a series covering Washington’s 39 counties, including how they got their names.

In southcentral Washington where the Columbia, Snake, and Yakima rivers converge, sits Benton County.

Benton covers 1,738 square miles, designating it as Washington’s 21st largest county. Although it’s not particularly big, it’s population is 186,486 people, giving it a density of 103 people per square mile. This is slightly higher than the state average of 101.2, and is the 9th highest among Washington’s counties. Benton has several large cities including Kennewick and Richland, where most of its residents live. The county seat is Prosser.

Benton County’s name is steeped in American history. Formed in 1905 from eastern portions of Yakima and Klickitat counties, it was named after Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton. Senator Benton was a major proponent of westward expansion, otherwise known as Manifest Destiny. He wrote the first of the Homestead Acts, encouraging pioneers to move West and settle lands. Along with being an American expansionist, he fervently opposed paper money, earning him the nickname “Old Bullion.” Benton advocated the gold standard and thought paper money created inequality and favored the wealthy.

Benton County’s name is not its only claim to historical significance. In fact, the entire course of human history was changed by what came out of a small town within Benton’s borders. In 1943, only 38 years after its creation, World War II visited Benton County in the form of the Manhattan Project.

In order to make atomic weapons, the Manhattan Project produced the plutonium. The Hanford Site, a massive complex, was built in 1943 along the banks of the Columbia. The plutonium manufactured in Hanford was used in the Trinity test bomb, as well as the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. To this day, Benton has a strong heritage of technology due to World War II, but it continues to be a strong agricultural producer as well.


A photo of the Hanford Site (image courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy)

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2015 WA Rural Heritage grants go to 6 libraries


–Summertime skiing at Mount Baker, 1938. From the Archives’ Mount Baker Foothills Collections at the Rural Heritage Program.


Six libraries across Washington soon will be able to begin digitizing their historic collections for the public to see and enjoy after receiving grants through the Washington Rural Heritage program.

The six grant recipients are:

  • Asotin County Library in partnership with Asotin County Museum ($5,000).
  • Ellensburg Public Library ($2,141).
  • Kettle Falls Public Library, Libraries of Stevens County ($4,259).
  • La Conner Regional Library District, in partnership with Museum of Northwest Art (MoNA) and Western Washington University Libraries, Special Collections ($5,000).
  • Port Angeles Public Library, North Olympic Library System, in partnership with Clallam County Genealogical Society ($5,000).
  • Whitman County Library, in partnership with the Colfax Fire Department, Town of Farmington, and Washington State University Manuscripts, Archives & Special Collections ($3,600).

The 2015 Washington Rural Heritage grants total $25,000. Go here to see more details about each of the six grant awards.

Over the next year, Washington State Library staff will work with these libraries to digitize unique, historically significant materials in their collections. Local library staffs will be trained on digitizing historical materials, and their collections will be publicly hosted and digitally preserved through the Washington Rural Heritage website and digital repository, which includes material from the holdings of 108 institutions and 313 privately held collections throughout the state.

Washington Rural Heritage is a collaborative digitization program headquartered at the Washington State Library. The project brings together unique local history materials from libraries, museums and the private collections of Washington citizens.

“Many small, rural libraries and museums across Washington possess irreplaceable and unique collections or items, such as old photographs,” said Evan Robb, the State Library’s Digital Repository Librarian. “But they usually don’t have the staffing, expertise or resources to digitally preserve these materials or make them widely available to the public. Through its grants and training, Washington Rural Heritage helps these libraries and museums digitize these valuable items so they are preserved and available to people to see and enjoy whenever they like.”

Secretary of State Kim Wyman congratulated the new grant recipients and praised the project:

“The Washington Rural Heritage program is nothing short of amazing. Everyone benefits when we make it easy to access our precious history. Our rural heritage is most worthy of this preservation and digitizing it. Helps make it available to everyone with the click of a mouse. My hat’s off to the program and the new grant winners!”

For more information about Washington Rural Heritage, contact Robb at evan.robb@sos.wa.gov or (360) 704-5228.

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A Snapshot of Asotin County

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The flag of Asotin County (Image courtesy of the Washington State Archives) 

Asotin is second in a series covering Washington’s 39 counties, including how they got their names.

Nestled in the reaches of Washington’s far southeastern corner is Asotin County (pronounced uh-SOH-tin). It is colloquially referred to as Washington’s “cornerstone.” Asotin, a word derived from the Nez Perce Indian language (originally Has-Hu-Tin), translates into English as, “eel creek.” This title refers to the eels that are ubiquitous in the waterways in and around Asotin County, including the Snake River.

Before the arrival of the pioneers, Asotin County was home to a large Nez Perce winter encampment. The climate of Southeastern Washington was amenable for the Nez Perce, and they held large pow-wows on the banks of the Snake. There was always plentiful food available from both the rivers and hunting.

Asotin County is geographically small compared to some of Washington’s other counties, encompassing only 636 square miles. This designates it as 35th in size out of Washington’s 39 counties. As for population, Asotin has about 22,000 residents, which gives the county a rural feel. For some perspective, the population density of Asotin County is 34 people per square mile, compared the state average of 101 people per square mile.

Asotin County has two main cities within its borders, Asotin, which is the county seat, and Clarkston, its largest city.


A historic photo of Asotin, the county seat of Asotin County (photo courtesy of cityofasotin.org)


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