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History of Washington

The State of Washington, situated in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States, has been named after President George Washington. This region was first inhabited by a number of Native American tribes, each characterized by its own unique culture. The first European to arrive on the Washington Coast in 1977 was Spanish Captain Don Bruna de Heceta. Cape Flattery, situated at the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, was first sighted by the British explorer Captain James Cook in 1778. However, the exploration of the straits was carried out later by Captain Charles W. Barkley in 1789; by Spanish explorers Manuel Quimper in 1790; by Francisco de Eliza in 1791; and by the British Captain George Vancouver in 1792. The Northwest Territory was opened to the explorers, particularly from Britain and the United States, by the Spanish Nootka Convention of 1790. The mouth of the Columbia River was discovered first by the American Captain Robert Gray.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition arrived in the region on October 10, 1805. Spain forfeited their claims to the territory to the United States in 1819. The phase of disputed joint-occupancy by the U.S. and Britain persisted until the British relinquished their claims to this land to the United States with the Treaty of Oregon, signed on June 15, 1846. Another significant event in the history of the State of Washington is the Cayuse War between the Indians and settlers. This war was triggered by the murder of Marcus Whitman and 12 other white settlers in the Whitman massacre in 1847. Washington was carved out from the western portion of the Washington Territory. It was finally added to the Union as the 42nd US State on November 11, 1889.

The major industries that first developed in the state included agriculture, lumbering, salmon canning, fishing, and mining. The area surrounding eastern Puget Sound developed a number of heavy industries during the period including the WWI and WWII. The Grand Coulee Dam, the largest concrete structure ever built in the United States, was constructed in 1941, during the Great Depression. The State of Washington became a hub for war industries during the WWII. Boeing Company, manufacturing heavy bombers; ports in Bremerton, Tacoma, Seattle, and Vancouver, producing warships; and the Hanford Works atomic energy plant, involved in the construction of atom bombs, played significant roles during the World War II. Mount St. Helens exploded outwards on May 18, 1980, killing 57 people. This eruption not only flooded the Columbia River and its tributaries but also flattened all the forests in the area.

 
 
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