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.

Whatcom County, Washington

Whatcom County Education, Geography, and History

Whatcom County, Washington Courthouse


Etymology - Origin of Whatcom County Name

Chief Whatcom of the Nooksack Native American tribe. Whatcom County (pronounced /ˈʍɑtkəm/) is a county located in the US state of Washington. Its name ultimately derives from a Nooksack word meaning "noisy water."


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Whatcom County History

 Whatcom County was established on March 9, 1854, by the Washington territorial government from a portion of Island County. The name Whatcom derives from a Nooksack word meaning "noisy water" and it was the name of a Nooksack chief. The county has the distinction of having beautiful marine vistas, lakes, rivers, and forested hills and mountains that rise toward majestic Mount Baker. These features were home to Native peoples for millennia; Europeans first encountered them in the 1700s. After the establishment of coal mines, a sawmill, and a military fort on Bellingham Bay in the 1850s, the county began to emerge as an important player in territorial economics and political life. Logging began, and the county emerged as an agricultural and lumber area. Canneries made the county world-renowned. In 1903, all the towns on Bellingham Bay came together under the name of Bellingham. During the Great Depression in the 1930s, the county suffered economic troubles, but, along with the rest of the country, recovered after World War II. During the 1980s, Whatcom County began to grow into one of the most sought-out areas in the country, noted for recreational opportunities on land and water as well as colleges, city parks, light industries, and cultural events.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,504 square miles (6,485 km2), of which, 2,120 square miles (5,490 km2) of it is land and 384 square miles (995 km2) of it (15.34%) is water, including Lake Whatcom, which empties into Bellingham Bay by way of Whatcom Creek. Physiographically, Whatcom County is an extension of the Fraser Valley or "Lower Mainland" area of British Columbia, which is essentially the lowland delta plain of the Fraser River - at some times in the past one of the Fraser River's lower arms entered Bellingham Bay near Bellingham via what is now the mouth of the Nooksack River.citation needed A very small part of the county, Point Roberts, about 5 square miles (13 km2), is an extension of the Tsawwassen Peninsula, which is bisected by the international boundary along the 49th Parallel. The highest point in the county is the peak of the active volcano Mount Baker at 10,778 feet (3,285 m) above sea level. The lowest points are at sea level along the Pacific Ocean.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Okanogan County, Washington - east
  • Skagit County, Washington - south
  • San Juan County, Washington - southwest

Whatcom County also has land borders with two administrative units of British Columbia, Canada, which together comprise the region known as the Lower Mainland, and also a water border with a district on Vancouver Island:

  • Greater Vancouver Regional District
  • Fraser Valley Regional District
  • Capital Regional District (water boundary only, across Strait of Georgia)


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