The Tri-Cities, in Southeast Washington, are three distinct cities:
Kennewick was first home to the Chemnapum Indians. The name means "Winter Haven," an appropriate title as the tribe gathered in the mild climate to trade, fish and pasture their horses. Kennewick is now the largest of the three cities and relies on light industry and retail to support their thriving economy. Our history includes that of "Kennewick Man" a 9,200 year old skeleton unearthed in Kennewick's Columbia Park-a significant discovery receiving international attention.
Pasco is near the site where the Lewis & Clark Expedition made camp in 1805. The expedition spent several days near present day Sacajawea State Park trading with the Indians and cataloging our diverse plant and animal life. Pasco has both strong agricultural and industrial roots...and is the largest city in the million acre Columbia Basin Irrigation Project.
Transportation is a dominant part of Pasco's history and future. The arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad was instrumental in bringing a rush of settlers to the Washington Territory which led to statehood on November 11, 1889. World War II brought the Army Reconsignment Depot and Naval Air Station to Pasco. Pasco is also home to the first commercial airport west of the Mississippi.
Richland started out as a small farming community...but the population boomed from about 1,500 to more than 51,000 residents in 1943 when the government built the country's first nuclear reactor on the Hanford Site. The Hanford Site continues to play a major role in the Tri-Cities economy and is also a huge part of the science and technology communities worldwide. The Hanford Reach is the last free-flowing stretch of the Columbia River in the United States and was recently designated as a National Monument by President Clinton.
Richland's alphabet houses were designed to accommodate the growth in population at the Hanford Site during World War II and the cold war. Each design was assigned an alphabet letter designation and included apartments, dormitories, duplexes, and single family homes. For more information and a driving tour of the alphabet houses, visit the Columbia River Exhibition of History, Science and Technology in Richland.
Information courtesy of the Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau.