History and Highlights of Pasco
Like today, a mild climate and an abundant fish supply ensured that inhabitants thrived along the banks of the Columbia, Yakima, and Snake rivers. Evidence of the earliest known inhabitants in the Western Hemisphere were found in northern Franklin County at the Marmes Rockshelter, near Lyons Ferry and Palouse Falls.
In 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition camped at the confluence of the Columbia and Snake rivers in an area that 200 years later is called Sacagawea State Park in honor of their Native American guide. Little did they know the surrounding area would be called Pasco, today a bustling, thriving community of 68,240 people.
The Northern Pacific Railroad brought a rush of settlers to the Washington Territory, leading to statehood in 1889. The railroad town of Ainsworth was moved to Pasco in 1886 and brought with it the Franklin County seat. Pasco was incorporated on September 3, 1891, and was named by Virgil Bogue, an engineer for the railroad, after Cerro de Pasco in Peru.
Pasco grew to be a small but important railroad town in the years before World War II. The war brought the Manhattan Project, the United States’ development of the atomic bomb, to the nearby Hanford Site. Pasco, along with the rest of the area, played an vital support role in that effort. Pasco was also home to Naval Air Station Pasco (the current Tri-Cities Airport) and the Pasco Engineer Depot (still called “Big Pasco” today). These wartime activities more than doubled the population in just months.
Post-war, Hanford played an important role in the area economy, and it continues through today in the cleanup effort. Additionally, the build out of irrigation, such as the Columbia Basin Project, made agriculture an even more critical part of the economy of Pasco and Franklin County.
Pasco’s growth is also energized by its location as a transportation hub. In the beginning, the city relied entirely on the river and rail for transportation, but has since matured into a genuine hub including surface, air, water, and rail; all modes moving agricultural goods, dry goods, technology, and other products to near and distant corners of the globe.
Population and Community
Pasco has experienced rapid residential growth in the 21st century, growing from a 2000 population of 32,066 to a 2015 population estimate of 68,240. This growth has occurred hand-in-hand with increasing quality of life – Pasco’s crime rate has dropped more than 80% since 1990 and cited as one of the safest cities in the state in several different surveys; Pasco was 2nd in “10 Washington State Cities On The Rise“, one of the “12 of the Best Places to Live in Washington“, one of the “Best Places for Home Ownership“, and one of the “Best Cities for Millennial Job Seekers in Washington“. For more detailed demographic information, visit Benton-Franklin Trends.
Boasting good schools, health care facilities, faith communities, numerous retail/professional opportunities, recreational areas, and predominantly good weather, Pasco is a place where people put down roots and raise families in a safe, forward-thinking, active environment.
Pasco’s Recreation Features
Pasco is a sports-minded community! Some of the amenities offered include:
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