Category Archives: Fun Facts

Five Fun Facts About North Central Washington Highways

US 2 Pedestrian Bridge
You simply cannot get around the North Central Washington region without traveling on the roads. The roads themselves not only connect to a lot of interesting places, they also have an interesting history themselves.

Here is a look at five fun facts about the highways of North Central Washington.

Highway 97

Highway 97 is the major north-south route through North Central Washington. It actually stops at Peshastin, or the Big Y, and runs concurrently with Highway 2 from there to Orondo, before being signed alone as Highway 97 again.

Lake Wenatchee to Leavenworth

Highway 207 runs from Coles Corner out to Lake Wenatchee State Park. The road from there that goes to the community of Plain and beyond to Leavenworth is a county road. It was once maintained by the Washington State Department of Transportation and known as Highway 209. This was discontinued as a state highway in 1992.

Highway 285

Highway 285 is just over five miles in length and stretches from its intersection with Highway 28 in East Wenatchee, over the George Sellar Bridge, and through Wenatchee out to the north end of the city where it meets Highway 2. This was all part of Highway 2 until that highway was rerouted over the newly built Odabashian Bridge in 1975.

Interstate 90

Interstate 90 runs east to west through the southern part of North Central Washington. It enters the region from the west over the Vantage Bridge. Prior to that bridge being built, traffic on this route had to cross the Columbia River by ferry.

The Cascade Loop

The Cascade Loop is one of the most popular scenic road trip routes in the Pacific Northwest. The Cascade Loop crosses three mountain passes including Stevens Pass, Rainy Pass, and Washington Pass.

Five Things You May Not Know About Brewster, Washington

Brewster, Washington
The town of Brewster sits on US Highway 97 on the way north to Okanogan and the Canadian border or south to Lake Chelan and Wenatchee. It’s a nice little city to stop for a visit or at least pull off the highway for a quick stop.

Here’s a look at five fun facts about Brewster, Washington.

The Town Name

One of the earliest settlers to the area where Brewster is now located was John Bruster. It’s from him that the town gets its name.

Bye Bye Bridge

In August of 1967, the Brewster Bridge, which connects the town to the Douglas County side of the Columbia River, was completely destroyed by a fire. For years, crossing the river there was done by ferry until a replacement bridge was completed.

Brewster, Washington

A Long, Long Way Away

The town of Brewster sits right on the Columbia River. If you were to take a canoe from there to the Pacific Ocean, you’d travel about 530 miles.

Quite A Population Difference!

The town of Brewster has a population of right around 2,500 people. Its sister city is Takahagi, Japan. Takahagi’s population is just under 30,000.

The Local Hospital

For decades, the hospital in Brewster was known as the Okanogan Douglas County District Hospital. In 2011, a contest was held and the name Three Rivers Hospital was selected as the new name.

5 Things You May Not Know About Washington Pass On The North Cascades Highway

North Cascades Highway

The North Cascades Highway is famous as one of the most scenic routes in all of Washington State. One of the passes it crosses on its way from the west side of the state to east side is Washington Pass.

Here are five things you may not know about Washington Pass on the North Cascades Highway.

The Highest Of Them All

North Central Washington is home to seven mountain passes:

Stevens Pass
Blewett Pass
Loup Loup Pass
Rainy Pass
Washington Pass
Disautel Pass
Wauconda Pass

Washington Pass is the highest of them all at 5,477 feet.

That’s A Short Trail

The Washington Pass Overlook Trail was designated a National Recreation Trail in 1978. It leads from the parking lot to a viewpoint with an incredible view of Liberty Bell Mountain. The trail’s length is just 0.2 miles.

Not Every Year!

The high points of the North Cascade Highway at Washington Pass and Rainy Pass are known around the state for being closed due to heavy snowfall from usually sometime in November to sometime in April or early May. This is true of every year except for the drought year of 1976 whe the passes were left open all winter long.

Exact Location

When traveling across the North Cascades Highway, you reach the summit of Washington Pass at the milepost 162.5 marker.

The Big Day!

The ribbon cutting ceremony opening the North Cascades Highway crossing Washington Pass was held on September 2, 1972.

Five Fun Facts About Riverside, Washington

Riverside, Washington is a small town located in Okanogan County, approximately seven miles north of Omak. It sits right on the Okanogan River and has a unique history. It’s worth a quick drive off the highway to take a look at it and stop and maybe even buy something at one of the few small businesses there.

Riverside, Washington

Here are five fun facts about Riverside, Washington.

As Far As You Go

When you’re driving up Highway 97, you pass Riverside, Washington and continue north to Oroville and eventually the USA – Canada border. Years ago though, when riverboats were going up and down the Okanogan River, the town of Riverside was the furthest north you could make it before having to stop.

The Riverside Airport?

The town of Riverside barely makes up one full square mile in area. But within its boundaries sits an airport owned and operated by the Omak City Council of nearby Omak, Washington. Though it’s located in Riverside, it goes by the name of the Omak Municipal Airport.

What’s In A Name

A little over a decade before it was officially incorporated in 1913, the town that would become Riverside was first platted in 1902 and was originally known as Republic Landing.

Population “Explosion”

Having been officially incorporated in 1913, Riverside had a population of 209 people during the 1920 U.S. Census, its first as a town. It’s lowpoint came in 1950 when it had just 149 residents. It “exploded” in population in 2000 when 348 people were counted as living there. That number lowered back down to 280 though by the 2010 census a decade later.

You’re Not Welcome Here

Visitors driving through the area are of course welcome to take a detour and drive into or through the small town of Riverside. Over a century ago though there was a man who wasn’t so welcome. Frank Watkins was an outlaw in the Pacific Northwest and made Riverside his home for a time. When he turned up shot and killed one day, the local townspeople disapproved of him so much that though they buried him, they chose not to bury him inside the town’s cemetery. His grave is still there, up on the hill above the cemetery, fenced off and hundreds of feet away from his fellow residents of Riverside.

Five Fun Facts About Rock Island, Washington

Rock Island, Washington

Born in 1930

The town of Rock Island had been inhabited for years, going way back to when the North Central Washington region first started receiving settlers. It wasn’t incorporated officially until 1930.

What’s In A Name?

The first town started in the Rock Island vicinity was actually located two miles south and was named Hammond when it was platted in 1891. Four years later, based on development by the Great Northern Railroad, the town would be moved to its present site and renamed Rock Island.

Two Labor Booms

Rock Island saw its population boom twice due to major construction projects. The first was the building of the large steel railroad bridge across the Columbia River in the early 1890’s. The second was in the early 1930’s with the building of Rock Island Dam.

A State Park?

On old maps dating back before 1940, there was actually a Rock Island State Park listed. It was located southeast of the current town of Rock Island near Rock Island Dam.

The Wheat Chute

Rock Island founder James Keane built a large wheat chute that would carry wheat from the plateau up above down to the townsite where it could be loaded on wagons or rail cars. The trestles and wooden chutes making up this structure decayed, and in some cases burned, long ago.

Five Fun Facts About Okanogan County’s Omak Lake

Omak Lake
Omak Lake near Omak, Washington

Omak Lake sits, naturally, just a short drive from the community of Omak, Washington. It’s a popular local getaway for those wanting to swim, kayak, waterski, go fishing, and more. Omak Lake offers a unique atmosphere with the beautiful water acting as an almost oasis among the dry surrounding hills.

Here is a look at five fun facts about Omak Lake.

The Largest of Them All!

Omak Lake is the largest saline lake in the entire state of Washington.

Okay… Not Actually the “Largest”

While Omak Lake may be the largest saline lake in Washington State, it is the 12th largest natural lake in the state overall.

Where Does Omak Lake’s Water Come From?

Omak Lake is fairly big in size and gets its water naturally from three sources: Kartar Creek, No Name Creek, and Beaverhouse Creek.

Once A River…

Omak Lake is long and skinny and actually occupies what was at one time a channel of the Columbia River.

Where Does It Go?

While there are three creeks feeding water into Omak Lake, the lake actually has no outlets.

Five Fun Facts About Priest Rapids Dam

Priest Rapids Dam is one of the many hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River that’s generating power for, and benefiting the residents of, Central Washington. This dam doesn’t get as much attention as some of the others, but it is very important nonetheless.

Here are five fun facts about Priest Rapids Dam.

WHEN WAS PRIEST RAPIDS DAM BUILT?


Construction on Priest Rapids Dam began in July of 1956. It first opened in 1959 but was not fully completed until 1961.

HOW FAR FROM THE PACIFIC OCEAN IS PRIEST RAPIDS DAM


Priest Rapids Dam is located just over 397 miles upriver from the mouth of the Columbia River.

HOW BIG IS PRIEST RAPIDS DAM?


Priest Rapids Dam is 178 feet tall. It measures 10,103 feet across from the west side of the river to the east side.

HOW MANY GENERATORS ARE LOCATED AT PRIEST RAPIDS DAM?


Priest Rapids Dam is a power producing dam and has 10 turbine generators in place to produce that power.

WHAT IS PRIEST RAPIDS LAKE?


Priest Rapids Lake is the name given to the water on the Columbia River that is backed up behind Priest Rapids Dam.

FIVE FUN FACTS ABOUT THE STEHEKIN RIVER

The Stehekin River flows out of the high Cascade Mountains right into world famous Lake Chelan. The mouth of the river is right at a village that shares its name. This area is not accessible by road and can only be reached by hiking trail, float plane, and boat. The river is the main source of water for Lake Chelan and is an important part of the local area. Some of the popular attractions near the river are Silver Bay, Rainbow Falls, Buckner Homestead Historical District, and the Golden West Visitor Center.

Here are five fun facts about the Stehekin River:

HOW LONG IS THE STEHEKIN RIVER?

From where it starts to where it empties into Lake Chelan, the Stehekin River is 17 miles long.

WHAT DOES STEHEKIN MEAN?

The name Stehekin comes from a Native American word meaning “the way through”.

THE BRIDGE OVER THE STEHEKIN RIVER


About twelve and a half miles northwest of Stehekin, right on the Stehekin Valley Road, is a bridge taking the road over the Stehekin River. This bridge is a wood and steel type and was built in 1971. It is owned and maintained by the National Park Service.

HOW OLD IS THE BUCKNER HOMESTEAD?

The Buckner Homestead Historic District covers roughly 50 acres along the Stehekin River. The oldest cabin on the land was built in 1889. The Buckner family bought the homestead in 1910 and owned it until 1970 when they sold it to the National Park Service.

HOW MANY CREEKS FLOW INTO THE STEHEKIN RIVER

The Stehekin River collects the water of 26 creeks over the length of its flow.

Five Fun Facts About North Central Washington Railroad

North Central Washington has a fascinating history in a number of respects. From the fruit industry to mining, forestry, livestock, and more, there is a lot of note that has happened within the region. The region also has a long history with the railroad industry.

Here is a look at five fun facts about North Central Washington Railroad.

The Cascade Tunnel

The Cascade Tunnel is the longest railroad tunnel in the United States at 7.79 miles in length. It was put into service in 1929 and is still in operation.

Oh… The Power!

The first Cascade Tunnel was electrified. It received its power from a small powerhouse that made electricity on the Wenatchee River just west of Leavenworth and below the Tumwater Dam.

The Shortest In The State

For a time, the shortest established railroad in Washington State was the Waterville Railway. This railroad operation ran from the town of Waterville east for four and a half miles to the town of Douglas. From there, it linked with the Mansfield branch of the Great Northern Railway.

Big Bang!

On August 6, 1974, an explosion was heard in South Wenatchee that ended up killing two people and injuring 66. The explosion came from a tanker car carrying chemicals that was in the Appleyard Terminal on the southern end of town. The blast left a crater in the railyard that measured 35 feet deep, 60 feet wide, and 80 feet long.

Highway 2’s Previous Life

Today, Highway 2 runs through Tumwater Canyon on its way from Leavenworth to Stevens Pass. The road bed that carries the highway was once the original mainline route for the Great Northern Railway before it was rerouted though Chumstick Canyon.

Five Fun Facts About George, Washington

The very small community of George, Washington is known mostly for it’s famous name that honors the first President of the United States, George Washington. This community sits right on Interstate 90, just east of Vantage and the Columbia River, and directly south of the town of Quincy.

Here are five fun facts about the small community of George, Washington:

Not Just A National Birthday

The town of George, Washington was dedicated on July 4th, 1957. It would be incorporated as a town four years later in 1961.

The Big Question: Why?

One of the main reasons for the building of the city of George was that a growing irrigation district meant more farming and a decision was made that the nearest towns of Quincy, Ephrata, and Moses Lake were too far away to service the area.

The One And Only

The town of George, Washington is the only community in the entire United States to bear the full name of a U.S. President.

A Big Piece Of The Pie

One of the ways the community of George celebrates the 4th of July is by baking what is billed as the world’s biggest Cherry Pie.

What A Familiar Sounding Name

The town of George, Washington was founded with an investment from a pharmacist named Charlie Brown, no relation to the Peanuts cartoon character.