Walla Walla is the largest city and county seat of Walla Walla County, Washington, United States. It had a population of 31,731 at the 2010 census, estimated to have increased to 32,900 as of 2019. Take a look below for 25 fascinating and interesting facts about Walla Walla, Washington, United States.
1. The population of the city and its two suburbs, the town of College Place and unincorporated Walla Walla East, is about 45,000.
2. Walla Walla is in the southeastern region of Washington, approximately four hours away from Portland, Oregon, and four and half hours from Seattle.
3. It is located only 6 mi (10 km) north of the Oregon border.
4. Recorded history in this state begins with the establishment of Fort Nez Perce in 1818 by the North West Company to trade with the Walla Walla people and other local Native American groups.
5. At the time, the term “Nez Perce”, which is French for pierced nose, was used more broadly than today, and included the Walla Walla in its scope in English usage.
6. Fort Nez Perce had its name shift to Fort Walla Walla. It was located significantly west of the present city.
7. On September 1, 1836, Marcus Whitman arrived with his wife Narcissa Whitman.
8. Here they established the Whitman Mission in an unsuccessful attempt to convert the local Walla Walla tribe to Christianity. Following a disease epidemic, both were killed in 1847 by the Cayuse who thought that the missionaries were poisoning the native peoples. Whitman College was established in their honor.
9. On July 24, 1846, Pope Pius IX established the Diocese of Walla Walla and appointed Augustin-Magloire Blanchet to become the first Bishop of Walla Walla.
10. The diocese was short-lived as Bishop Blanchet fled to St. Paul, Oregon, after the Whitman Massacre.
11. In 1850, the Diocese of Nesqually was established in Vancouver and in 1853 the Diocese of Walla Walla was suppressed and absorbed into the Diocese of Nesqually. Today, the Diocese of Walla Walla is a titular see currently held by Witold Mroziewski, an auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn, New York.
12. The original North West Company and later Hudson’s Bay Company Fort Nez Percés fur trading outpost, became a major stopping point for migrants moving west to Oregon Country. The fort has been restored with many of the original buildings preserved.
13. The current Fort Walla Walla contains these buildings, albeit in a different location from the original, as well as a museum about the early settlers’ lives.
14. The origins of Walla Walla at its present site begin with the establishment of Fort Walla Walla by the United States Army here in 1856.
15. The Walla Walla River, where it adjoins the Columbia River, was the starting point for the Mullan Road, constructed between 1859 and 1860 by US Army Lieut. John Mullan, connecting the head of navigation on the Columbia at Walla Walla (i.e., the west coast of the United States) with the head of navigation on the Missouri-Mississippi (that is, the east and gulf coasts of the U.S.) at Fort Benton, Montana.
16. Walla Walla was incorporated on January 11, 1862.
17. As a result of a gold rush in Idaho, during this decade the city became the largest community in the territory of Washington, at one point slated to be the new state’s capital. Following this period of rapid growth, agriculture became the city’s primary industry. Baker Boyer Bank, the oldest bank in the state of Washington, was founded in Walla Walla in 1869.
18. In 1936, Walla Walla and surrounding areas were struck by the magnitude 6.1 State Line earthquake.
19. Residents reported hearing a moderate rumbling immediately before the shock. There was significant damage in the area, and aftershocks were felt for several months following.
20. In 2001 Walla Walla was a Great American Main Street Award winner for the transformation and preservation of its once dilapidated main street.
21. In July 2011, USA Today selected Walla Walla as the friendliest small city in the United States.
22. Walla Walla was also named Friendliest Small Town in America the same year as part of Rand McNally’s annual Best of the Road contest. In 2012 and 2013 Walla Walla was a runner-up in the best food category for the Best of the Road.
23. Downtown Walla Walla was awarded a Great Places in America Great Neighborhood designation in 2012 by the American Planning Association.
24. Tourists to Walla Walla are often told that it is a “town so nice they named it twice”.
25. Some locals and Walla Walla natives often refer to the city in text form with “W2”.