(Photo courtesy of City of Zillah)
If you’ve driven from Yakima to the Tri-Cities or if you’ve done a wine-tasting tour in the Yakima Valley, chances are you’ve been through Zillah, a town of roughly 3,000 inhabitants in south-central Washington. Zillah is in beautiful Yakima County, known for more than two dozen local wineries and vineyards.
Zillah (pronounced ZIL-uh) was named by Yakima Valley irrigation pioneer Walter N. Granger, president of the Yakima Land and Canal Company. One of the company investors was Northern Pacific Railroad president T.F. Oakes, whose daughter was Miss Zillah Oakes. The city was named in her honor.
Much like the railroads that have reshaped commercial development in the 19th century, the automobile has had a dramatic effect on Washington’s businesses in the 20th century. Newly constructed pavement and gravel for trucks and cars instantly led way for a demand of merchant operated grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, and motor hotels along the way.
A popular Zillah landmark is the eccentric Teapot Dome gas station, built in 1922 on Highway 12. It is an example of roadway novelty architecture intended to attract the attention of passing motorists.