The Palouse region of Washington is a landscape of gentle hills, rural towns, and wheat fields in the southeastern corner of the state. Eliciting a Van Gogh painting, Palouse starkly contrasts the mountains and forests of Western Washington. Columbia County is found in this golden part of Washington, and is the seventh county in our series.
Columbia County is named after the Columbia River, which winds through Washington and serves as a vein of commerce, irrigation, and recreation for the entire state. Columbia was established in 1875, fourteen years before Washington was granted statehood. It occupies 860 square miles, and is the ninth smallest county in Washington. Its population is 4,000 people, making it one of the least populated counties in the state. Columbia’s seat is in Dayton, a small community of about 2,500 in the center of the county.
The economy of Columbia mainly relies on agriculture, and in particular wheat. Wheat fields stretch out on the hills in ochre and yellow blankets, making for some particularly beautiful farmland. If someone requires affirmation of the importance of wheat farming to Columbia County, they only need to look at their flag.