Washington Counties
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Washington Counties

There are thity-nine counties in the state of Washington. Washington was carved out of the western part of Washington Territory and admitted to the Union as the 42nd state in 1889. The first counties were created from unorganized territory in 1845.

Kittitas County, Washington

Kittitas County Education, Geography, and History

Kittitas County, Washington Courthouse

Kittitas County is a county located in the state of Washington. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 40,915. Its county seat and largest city is Ellensburg. The county was created on November 24, 1883 when it separated from Yakima County.

Kittitas County comprises the Ellensburg, WA Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Kittitas County Name

There are numerous interpretations of the name, which is from the language of the Yakama Nation. According to one source, it "has been said to mean everything from 'white chalk' to 'shale rock' to 'shoal people' to 'land of plenty'. Most anthropologists and historians concede that each interpretation has some validity depending upon the particular dialect spoken.".


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Kittitas County History

Kittitas County, located at the center of Washington between the Cascade Mountains and the Columbia River, was part of the land ceded by the Yakama Tribe in 1855. Briefly part of Ferguson County (now defunct), then Yakima County, Kittitas County was established on November 24, 1883. Its geographic area is 2,297.2 square miles, placing it eighth in size among Washington counties. Ellensburg, home to Central Washington University and the Ellensburg Rodeo, is county seat. The Kittitas Valley became a stopping place for cowboys driving their herds north toward mining camps in Canada and northwest toward the Seattle/Tacoma market. By the late 1860s, cattle ranchers established land claims and cattle became the area's foremost industry. The completion of a wagon road over Snoqualmie Pass in 1867, the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1887, the discovery of gold in Swauk Creek in 1873 and of coal near Cle Elum in 1883, and the 1932 completion of the Kittitas (irrigation) Project are important turning points in the county's history. Today the main industries are agriculture (including timothy hay to feed racehorses), manufacturing (food processing, lumber, and wood products), and government (including employment at Central Washington University).

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,333 square miles (6,043 km2), of which, 2,297 square miles (5,950 km2) of it is land and 36 square miles (93 km2) of it (1.54%) is water. The highest point in the county is Mount Daniel at 2426 meters (7,959 feet) above sea level.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Chelan County, Washington - north
  • Douglas County, Washington - northeast
  • Grant County, Washington - east
  • Yakima County, Washington - south
  • Pierce County, Washington - west
  • King County, Washington - northwest


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