Thursday, April 21, 2016



Bureau of Statistics and Immigration

I. M. HOWELL, Secretary of State
Ex-Officio Commissioner

Home seekers’ Guide



By HARRY F. GILES, Deputy Commissioner

Frank M. Lamborn, Public Printer
Olympia, 1914


OLYMPIA, January 20, 1914

Hon. I. M. Howell, Ex-Commissioner:

Sir:  Pursuant to your instructions, I have prepared and have the honor to transmit herewith a report describing in detail the counties, cities and towns of the State of Washington, and entitled the “Homeseekers’ Guide.”  I recommend that an edition of 25,000 copies of this be published for general distribution in connection with the work of this Department.

H. F. Giles
Deputy Commissioner.

Approved for publication February 2, 1914
I. M. Howell,
Ex-Officio Commissioner.


In exploiting the opportunities of a state so diversified in its resources as the State of Washington, much difficulty would be experienced by attempting to exhaust every important phase of the subject unless a book far more comprehensive than this publication were planned.
The wisdom of large volumes being doubtful, the policy of issuing a number of medium sized ones has been adopted.  Each will discuss the advantages of the state from a different standpoint, or will take up some advantages of the state from a different standpoint, or will take up some particular branch such as dairying, stock raising, hog raising, intensive farming, logged-off lands, irrigated lands, etc.  Another will also be issued paying more attention to the state at large.  Everything published will be for free distribution.
In this particular book, which is intended primarily as a guide for the home seeker, no pictures are shown, as only by such elimination was it possible to hold the present size without sacrificing some important detail of information.  The way for a prospective settler to get the most out of it is to first read carefully the introduction and note in a general way the differences of the various parts of the state; then to turn to the description of the group of counties which seem to attract him most.  If more information that that contained herein is desired regarding any section, a prompt answer will be received by writing to any commercial bodies listed on page 108.  This Department also is ready to answer all questions to the best of its ability and to assist anyone in getting the absolute facts regarding the conditions in any section of the state.
In compelling this book the Bureau is indebted to over one thousand contributors, including thirty-nine assessors, 200 secretaries of commercial or civil organizations, 700 postmasters and many other reliable men representing various walks of life, and properly informed regarding their respective communities.  All facts have been carefully checked by representatives out in the field, an only such statements made as can be safely defended.
To all these contributors and coworkers, the upmost appreciation is expressed for the willing cooperation which they have so kindly given.



Nature performed her best work when she created the State of Washington and offered it as a place for the homes of men.  Valleys, mountains, plains, lakes, rivers, sea and forests, have conspired to build so that the most whimsical cannot fail to find satisfaction and delight.  Within his easy reach have been stored immeasurable resources of unequalled variety, demanding from him who would profit merely the same willing and intelligent effort that is the price for everything worth one’s while.  At the same time there have been added the master touches of scenic and climatic art without which the highest plane of happiness and contentment can never be reached anywhere.  The nearness of the date set for the opening of the Panama Canal and the certainty of the immediate development of the territory of Alaska, have focused the eyes of the world on this favored region, for they who are best informed realize that these two events will wield a decided influence in hastening the already rapid growth of the Pacific coast.  He who is contemplating the serious step of changing his present habitation and moving with his family into some other part of the world, should first know something about this “The Evergreen State”, and its wonderful possibilities, before deciding whither his course should lie.


A proper understanding of Washington’s treasures requires some knowledge of its natural features.  It is the most northwesterly section of the United States.  Its greatest length from east to westis 360 miles and from north to south 240 miles.  Its total area including land and water is 69,180 square miles, just 18,626 square miles greater than Java, containing over 28 million people; nearly half the size of Prussia, containing more than 40 million people; 11,605 square miles more than England and Wales, containing over 36 million people; and nearly equal to the combined area of New York, Maryland and Massachusetts, with a total population close to 14 million.  Its total population for 1910 was 1,141,990, representing a gain of 120.4% over that of 1900 and a larger percentage of increase than any other state in the Union.  A rapid growth is still taking place.  For every square mile there are about 18 persons.  Porto Rico (sic) has 325 to the square mile, Rhode Island 508.5 and Belgium 658.58.


Its topography is unique and wonderful.  The most conspicuous feature is the Cascade mountain range, beginning at the Columbia river on the south and extending almost straight north into British Columbia.  The serrated summits of this range vary in altitude the average height being 8,000 feet.  The highest peaks are Mt. Rainier (or Mt. Tacoma) 14,408 feet, Mt. Adams 12,307 feet, Mt. Baker 10,827 feet, Glacier Peak 10,436 feet, and Mt. St. Helens 10,000 feet (approximate).  These mountains divide the state into practically two distinct parts, commonly known as Eastern Washington and Western Washington.  In climate, soil, topography, vegetation, etc. these two sections of the state are quite different.


The four northern counties of Eastern Washington constitute the Okanogan Highlands, characterized by a somewhat rolling and sometimes mountainous surface generally covered with pine timberland cut by a number of fertile river valleys, the principal ones of which are the Okanogan, the Method, the upper Columbia, the Colville, the Pend Orville and the San Poil.  This is one of the newest portions of the state and until recently quite remote on account of the absence of railroads.  Several, however, now follow the valleys and a number of extensions are being built or planned for the near future.  Nearly all crops common to other parts of eastern Washington grow profusely here.


With the exception of a comparatively small area in the southeast corner taken up by the Blue Mountains, also covered with timber, the remainder of this sections comprises chiefly the broad Columbia plain, ranging in altitude from 500 to something over 2,000 feet, with the general slope towards the Columbia river.  Besides the river valleys, some depressions called coulees and some low hills alternate with vast stretches of level or undulating country.  In the south central part of this great plain is the lowest precipitation in the state, between 6 and 8 inches, which gradually increases in all directions until it is 19 inches at Spokane, 18 at Walla Walla, 15 at Wenatchee, 10 at Ellensburg, 18 at Republic, 22 at Goldendale and 29 at CLe Elum.  The soil is mainly a decomposed basalt and known as volcanic ash.  It is rich in minerals, containing iron, lime, potash and phosphoric acid, in depth varying from one to one hundred feet.  The higher portions are devoted chiefly to the raising of grain and this is the country that produces Washington’s 50 million bushels of wheat, its 7 million bushels of barley, and a large portion of the 14 million bushels of oats.  Washington produces more o oats to the acre than any other state and is excelled by one state only in the production of barley per acre.


The valleys are generally irrigated and devoted to fruits, chiefly apples, peaches and pears, alfalfa, corn, vegetables, and hops.  The larger portion of the $10,000,000.00 apple crop is at present produced in the Yakima and Wenatchee valleys, and their tributaries, the remainder being produced chiefly in Spokane and Okanogan counties, in the Walla Walla valley, and along the Columbia, the Snake, and a number of smaller streams affording irrigation.  Spokane and Okanogan counties have about as many trees as Wenatchee and Yakima, but a comparatively small number have as yet come into bearing.  Many higher areas produce excellent fruit under practically dry farming conditions.  A good example is Klickitat county which has won several prizes for non-irrigated district displays.  The raising of corn is a new industry but wherever tried it has met with eminent success.  Nearly a million bushels were raised in 1913.  


The chief features of Western Washington are the Olympic Mountains, enveloping the Olympic Peninsula; the lower Columbia region in the southwest; and the great Puget Sound basin, lying between the two ranges of mountains, towards which it rises by gentle slopes, and containing the inland sea, Puget Sound.  Practically all parts were once covered with dense timber and there still remains some of the thickest bodies of timber to be found anywhere in the world.  Part of the remainder, particularly that closest to the Sound and the rivers, has been cleared and placed under cultivation, while much more is in the so-called logged-off state.  The country, other than the mountains, is made up of valleys, rolling hills, and level plateaus, nearly all of which is fit for agriculture in one form or another.  The most prominent soils are clay and sandy loam, intermixed with much alluvial bottom lands, alder bottom and beaver dams, while in some sections at the deltas of rivers are large areas of dyed tide lands very rich in soil elements.  The chief agricultural products here are grasses, oats, root crops (especially potatoes), fruits and berries.  For berries and soft fruits Western Washington is probably unexcelled by any part of the world.  In certain sections hops and bulbs are specialties.  It should be noted in passing that the average yield of hops per acre is greater than in any other statin the Union.  It is one of the states that produces most of the hops in the country.  The precipitation in all sections of Western Washington is sufficient so that no irrigation is actually needed, although in the case of some gravelly prairie land, as at Sequin iron the prairies of Pierce and Thurston counties, irrigation for a brief period has been found beneficial.  


On account of the readiness with which grasses and root crops grow and because of the exceedingly mild winters enjoyed, nearly all parts of the state are particularly well adapted to the raising of beef cattle, hogs, dairy cows, and poultry.  The imports into Washington of the products of these run high into the millions each year.  Although they have been neglected in the past, partially on account of the daily attention required, and partially because people have been too busy reaping easy harvests in other lines, these industries are promising now to yield splendid returns to any persons that like to care for animals.  No enterprises in the state have greater possibilities.  A complete pamphlet has been prepared on this subject and will be mailed free to any persons interested.
The sheep are raised chiefly in eastern Washington, pasturing in the summer on the foothills and wintering in the warm valleys.  In western Washington a considerable number are raised on the San Juan Islands.  In 1911, 400,000 sheep produced 3,700,000 lbs. of wool, and in 1912, 3,600,000 lbs., placing Washington first in the average weight per fleece which, in 1911, was 9.25 lbs., and in 1912, 9 lbs.
Horses and mules also do well in any part of the state.  Goats are particular adapted to the western counties.
The report of the state board of equalization for the year 1913 shows the following figures as representing the number and value of every kind of livestock assessed for taxable purposes.  The actual value is based on the assessed valuation of 42.44%.
(There is a charted showing number, value assessed value and actual value of livestock and poultry in Washington for the year 1913.)


Climate has been briefly discussed in connection with a number of the county descriptions.  It might be added in general that in no part of Washington’s habitable portions are there wide variations or extremes of temperature, either in summer or in winter.  This equability is probably caused partially by the Japan current and the protection afforded by the mountains.  Even during the months of July and August,  those months that are the dread of so many people in other parts of the world, the temperature in Washington is still even and never excessive.  Sunstroke has never been known and the evenings are always cool and conducive to sound slumber so that one awakes in the morning refreshed and ready for the day’s work.  The eastern Washington climate is considerably dryer than west of the Cascades, while the precipitation in the Puget Sound district is about the same as in the city of Chicago.  The lowest precipitation in Western Washington is in the vicinity of Port Townsend and the highest out near the Pacific ocean.  Very little snow falls, the precipitation being chiefly in the form of rain.  The larger portion falls during the winter months.
The following table shows the precipitation at a few centrally located stations in Western Washington, for which data is complete for the past five years.
(The chart shows the years 1908 thru and including 1912 for Port Townsend, Anacortes, Bellingham, Centralia, Olympia, Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver)
The annual normal temperature for western Washington, as deduced from a long period of years, is about 51 degrees; for the country in the vicinity of Spokane about 48 degrees, and near Walla Walla 33 degrees.  The highest monthly normal near Seattle is 64 degrees, Spokane 69 degrees, Walla Walla 74 degrees.
(There follows a chart showing the same cities as previously mentions in western Washington and in eastern Washington-Wenatchee, North Yakima, Spokane, Walla Walla, Ellensbeurg, Omak with lowest monthly, highest monthly and annual temperatures.)


The wonderful timber growth, already mentioned, supplies the material for the state’s main industry outside of the agricultural and livestock pursuits.  Lumber and shingles have been the principal manufactures for many years and probably will for many yet to come.  For the past nine years Washington has lead all other states in these products.  The yearly output is about 4,000,000,000 board feet, and represents in value 40% of all manufactures.  The state has the largest shingle mills in the world and produces about two-thirds of all the shingles produced in the United States.  About 1,500 establishments are engaged in these enterprises and employ about 50,000 men.  There are altogether about 400 billion feet of timber yet remaining.  Reforestation, however, is receiving some attention while a good healthy growth is now helping to make up for the amount cut each year.  The principle trees are fir, cedar, hemlock, spruce and yellow pine, with some tamarac in the northeastern counties.  By far the largest portion of the timber is in Western Washington, especially on the slopes of the Cascade and Olympic mountains.  
The counties of Eastern Washington containing timber are the Okanogan highlands, already noted; the portion of the southeast comprised by the Blue mountains; the northern part of Spokane county, and the eastern slope of the Cascades.  Nearly all the remainder of eastern Washington in its primeval state was covered with sage brush and bunch grass.


Manufactures other than timber products include flour mill and grist mill products; slaughter house products; canned or preserved fruits, meats, fish, etc; foundry and machine shop products; butter, cheese, condensed milk, etc; the products of breweries; clay products, cement, etc.  All manufactures in 1909 amounted to $220,746,000.00, representing a capital of $222,261,000.00, and employing 80,118 persons.  For 1913 the total value would probably represent upwards of $300,000,000.00.  The unlimited supply of raw material, together with vast water power and coal deposits, promises bug possibilities for future development in all lines of manufacturing.


The department of engineering of the University of Washington estimates a maximum available water power from the main drainage areas in the state, not including the Snake river, as 13,125,000 H.P.  There have thus far been developed on 227,000 H.P. for public service corporations and about 38,000 H.P. for commercial purposes.
(There follows a chart of all the drainage areas, HP entire 12 months at cost of $1.50 per HP or less and HP estimated average for year irrespective of distribution or cost)


With the many miles of water front, on both salt and fresh water, together with the great lumber output, it readily follows that ship building must be an important industry.  One of Uncle Sam’s largest battleships was built in Seattle and other craft are being built every year.  This industry is carried on in the Puget Sound district, on Gray’s Harbor, Willapa Harbor and along the Columbia river.  The state Industrial insurance commission reports 56 firms employing 1,255 men engaged in this enterprise.


Mining is gradually assuming important dimensions.  The leading product thus far is coal, the annual output of which is about 4,000,000 tons.  If the estimate of the Conservation Commission is anywhere nearly true, then there is enough still buried to last at least 5,000 years longer.  Forty-nine companies are engaged in this enterprise and employ 6,700 men.  The leading counties are King, Pierce, Kitties, Thurston and Lewis.
In metal mining, the state has barely made a start, but without doubt, Washington is destined some day to play a leading part in this important industry.  The annual production of metal mines amounts to about $1,000,000.00.  Gold leads, with silver, copper, lead and zinc following.  There are seven smelters employing 881 men.  The most productive gold mines at present are in the vicinity of Republic, Ferry county.


The public has little idea of the magnitude of, and the money required to handle, the fish output of the state.  First in importance is the salmon packing industry, which in 1911 amounted to $9,166,345.40.All other products including crabs, clams, fresh, salted and smoked fish, shell fish, oysters, oil, fertilizer, and glue, amounted to $4,307,233.00.  The State Fish Commissioner’s last biennial report shows the following for all fisheries.  
(Here follows a chart showing 1911 and 1912 working capital, value of canners, equipment, etc, no. of persons employed, earning of labor, total value of output.)
The output for 1913 will probably amount to $15,000,000.00 or more.
The state owns and operates 10 trout hatcheries with an output of 4,399,050 trout, and 20 salmon hatcheries producing 116,463,550 salmon.  These fish were planted in several lakes throughout the state and in Puget Sound and other waters on the coast.


The state has 6,750 miles of steam trackage, 979 miles of electric railway, and 39,062 miles of highway.  The chief railroads are the Northern Pacific, the Great Northern, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul, the Oregon & Washington Railroad and Navigation Company, and the Seattle, Portland & Spokane.  There are a number of smaller lines carrying passengers, also a number of logging roads,  Various other companies which are mention in connection with the county and city descriptions, operate over these tracks.
There are also about 2,500 miles of salt water frontage and over 1,000 miles of navigable river besides several large lakes that assist materially in the transportation of the state’s products.  The imports for the Puget Sound district for the year ending June 30th, 1913, were $51,478,683.00.  Exports for the same period were $62,382,922.00.  The tonnage on the navigable rivers for 1910, not including the Columbia above the mouth of the Snake, was 7,240,250 tons.


Washington naturally boasts of its educational facilities.  There are 2,654 school districts, each containing from one to seventy school buildings, from one to 33,000 pupils and employing from one to 1,016 teachers.  There are 325 public high schools containing from 6 to 1,600 pupils, three state normals, one state university, one state agricultural college, and 120 private schools including Whitman College, Whitworth College and the University of Puget Sound.  The Russell Sage Foundation places the state first in the entire list of 48 states, taking into consideration ten different tests of efficiency.  In nearly all the public schools manual training, domestic science, agriculture, music, and art are taught.  The U.S. census report shows that the state contains the smallest number of illiterates  to the 1,000 of native born white 21 years old and over, and is outdone by only two states in the number of illiterates per 1,000 for the entire population 10 years of age and over.


Washington has three hospitals for the insane and one for the feeble minded, a reformatory, a training school, a penitentiary, a school for the deaf and one for the blind, a State Soldiers’ Home, and a Washington Veterans’ Home.  A state agricultural department is maintained for the help of farmers, while a number of counties have availed themselves of the law authorizing the employment of county agricultural experts.  A state fair is held each year at North Yakima, and state aid is given to the Southwest Washington Fair in Lewis county.  There are two large experiment stations, one at Pullman in connection with the State College, and one at Puyallup, also a number of smaller ones in various districts.


Of the state’s total land area of 42,775,040 acres, 11,322,644 acres are included in forest reserves, and 2,949,037 in Indian reservations.  The total area  of surveyed state lands is 2,024,219.16 acres and of unreserved and unappropriated government lands 1,750,208 acres.  Practically all the remainder, with the exception of a few thousand acres of military reservation, has passed into private ownership.
State lands will be put up at auction upon proper application to the Commissioner of Public Lands and will be sold to the highest bidder for 10% down, the rest in 9 annual payments and 6% interest on deferred payments.
Government lands for homesteading are obtained in the usual way, the applicant filing on any vacant piece and then making his home there for three years before obtaining a patent.  The best of these have already been filed on.  The larger portion which still remains outside of the reservations is in the eastern part of the state.  The quantity remaining July 1, 1913, is mentioned in the paragraphs on “lands” in connection with the various county descriptions.  The counties containing the largest areas of such lands are Yakima, Kitties, Stevens, Okanogan, Pend Orville, and Grant.
At quarterly intervals the lands of deceased Indians are put up at auction and sold by the Indian Agent of the reservation to the highest bidder.  Pieces may also be leased for five-year periods.
Several million acres of excellent private lands are available to settlers at low prices and on reasonable terms.  They include all classes of lands both improved and unimproved, but the best opportunities usually consist in buying and developing the rough lands.  In Western Washington, with the exception of a limited amount of prairie and tide lands, they are generally stump or logged-off areas.  Much is owned by logging companies who, having cut off the marketable timber, are willing to let the lands go at very low prices to those wishing to develop and make their homes on them.  In Eastern Washington, they consist of logged-off lands in the northeastern counties, irrigable lands in the river valleys, and dry farming lands on the higher plateaus.  The completion of a number of important irrigation projects now under way will soon add vast areas to that already available for irrigation.  There is also some suitable for grazing only.  Not more than one-sixth of the state is improved, the remaining five-sixths holding splendid possibilities for agriculture in all branches.


Prices are discussed in connection with each county.  It should, however, be stated that there is no more difficult subject on which to make a careful statement.  In every case effort has been made to be as conservative as possible both to maximum and as to minimum, trying to avoid extremes in either case.  Prices of improved lands are more difficult to discuss than of unimproved, on account of the varied nature of the improvements.  The highest priced land usually has high class improvements, including expensive buildings, etc.  It can readily be understood that if the same buildings are on a few acres instead of a large farm, the apparent price per acre will be much higher.  Values of orchard lands are affected by the age, kind and bearing ability of the trees.  Nearness to market and other desirable features influence prices here as in other states.  It should also be noted that the lowest priced land is not always the cheapest in the long run.  Much depends on what it will do, and its desirable location as a place of a home.


No matter where one intends to buy land, he should first see it himself.  The greatest danger is making a mistake comes from buying at a distance.  Lands in the same neighborhood are often very unlike.  It will pay to see the place where on contemplates making a permanent home before investing any money.  The purchaser will then be more satisfied with the choice.  This Bureau stands ready to render any possible assistance that will lead a person to discover the exact locality he would prefer.  When every proper precaution has been taken, the newcomer seldom has any longing for the old home he left when taking the step that started him toward the great and welcoming State of Washington.

What then follows is the state broken down per county giving an overview of basically the same subjects as reproduced above.  The document is available on line, the copy in the Harbor History Museum Research Room is a copy “Digitized by Google”
© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

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