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Read about the History of the Kittitas County Historical Museum.


1814 Alexander Ross, a fur trader for John Jacob Astor, travels to the Kittitas Valley in search of horses. He is the first known white man to enter the valley.

1848 July - Father Pandosy, Chirouse, and G. Blanchet establish Immaculate Conception, a Catholic mission, near Manastash Creek.

1853 Lt. George B. McClellan leads the first government expedition into the Kittitas Valley. He was conducting a survey for construction of a railroad in "Nahcheez" and Snoqualmie passes.

1855-1856 Yakama Indian War

1860s Cattlemen including Ben Snipes bring herds to graze in the Kittitas Valley

1863 Ferguson County is created and includes much of modern Kittitas and Yakima Counties. County is soon disbanded.

1866 William (Bud) Wilson builds a small cabin on a creek (later known as Wilson Creek)

First accepted land survey performed.

Charles Splawn (brother of Andrew Jackson Splawn) moves to the valley at Taneum.

1867 The first Upper Valley settler, Frederick Ludi, arrives

Completion of a wagon road over Snoqualmie Pass links Kittitas Valley to the Puget Sound

1868 Tillman Houser and family settles in the Ellensburg area

1869 Taneum post office is established

Viola B. Splawn is the first white child born in Kittitas County. She is the daughter of Charles A. and Dulcena H. (Thorp) Splawn.

1870 AJ Splawn and Ben Burch purchase Wilson's Cabin and move it to the present-day location of E 3rd Avenue between N Main Street and N Water Street in Ellensburg. Cabin serves as the first trading post and is known as Robber's Roost.

1871 John and Mary Ellen Shoudy arrive in the Kittitas Valley from Seattle and purchase Robber's Roost from AJ Splawn and Ben Burch. The Shoudys receive a gift of 160 acres from AJ Splawn.

1872 Jacob Becker builds the first blacksmith shop in Ellensburgh near Robber's Roost

1873 Gold Rush begins in the Swauk Creek area. The Swauk Mining District encompasses more than 1,000 acres.

1875 July 20 - John and Mary Ellen Shoudy have 160 acres of land near Robber's Roost divided into lots and streets. John Shoudy names the platted city Ellensburgh after his wife Mary Ellen

1876 John Shoudy builds first frame, two-story building in Ellensburgh

1878 The Old Stockade Fort was constructed to protect white settlers from Indians.

1881 First record of prospecting in Cle Elum River Valley.

1883 June 12 -- The first newspaper, the Kittitas Localizer, is published

June 16 -- The second newspaper, Kittitas Standard, is published

Aug 29 -- a fire destroys a portion of Ellensburg's Business District. Estimated loss is $53,000.

Nov 26 -- Ellensburgh is named county seat and officially incorporated

Nov 28 -- Kittitas County is created.

First National Bank of Ellensburg is chartered

Ellensburg Hook and Ladder Company Number 1 is organized, bringing early firefighting to the growing city

Miners settle along banks of William Creek (present-day Liberty) to hunt for gold

First marriage license is issued in Kittitas County to John C. Ellison and Amy C. Childs.

Thomas Gamble stakes a claim for a homestead in present-day Cle Elum

1884 Sept 10 -- Ellensburgh Academy, a private Presbyterian school, is established in Ellensburgh

1885 First Kittitas County Fair is held.

Roslyn Vein (coal) discovered

Ellensburg Water Company begins operation

Mar 13 -- Fire burns a part of Ellensburg's Business District. Estimated loss is $15,000

Population: 600

1886 Roslyn is founded

Teanaway City is founded by August Hess. Within two years, businesses have moved to Cle Elum and town folds.

Feb 26 -- City of Ellensburgh holds its first election, with Austin Mires elected mayor. He defeated John A. Shoudy 279-93

Mar 1 -- City of Ellensburgh organized

Mar 2 -- First city council meeting held for City of Ellensburgh

Mar 31 -- First Northern Pacific Railroad train arrives in Ellensburgh from Yakima.

Population: 800

1887 June 2 -- Northern Pacific Railroad completes tracks across the Cascades linking Ellensburgh to Puget Sound communities

July 1 -- First train passes through Ellensburgh to the Puget Sound

County Courthouse is built.

Population: 1,200

1888 August 17 - First strike by Roslyn coal miners

1889 Feb 4 -- city of Roslyn is incoporated, but is later nullified. Official re-incorporation occurs on April 26, 1890

Feb 22 -- Washington Territory admitted into the union. Proclamation making Washington the 42nd state issued on Nov 11.

July 4 -- Ellensburgh's Central Business District is almost completely destroyed by fire. 10 blocks of downtown and 200 homes are destroyed. Estimated loss is $2 million

July 6 -- Citizens of Ellensburgh begin rebuilding their city

Nov 9 -- First telephone was connected in Ellensburg

The Brick Tavern in Roslyn is built

B.F. Craig builds a mansion in Ellensburgh known as the Castle

Labor clashes and strikes rock the cities of Cle Elum and Roslyn

1890 Thorp is founded

Early lighting system developed by John Shoudy gives Ellensburgh a municipal power supply. The Ellensburg Light Department is Washington's first municipally owned and operated lighting system.

The first telephone service in Ellensburgh arrives and is supplied by the Sunset Telephone and Telegraph Company, part of the Pacific States Telephone and Telegraph Comapny.

Nov 4 -- Ellensburg loses the bid for state capital

1891 July 23 -- Cle Elum suffers a devastating fire

Sept 6 -- Washington State Normal School opens to public (now known as Barge Hall at Central Washington University)

1892 Mine explosion in Roslyn kills 45 men

Northern Pacific Railroad, and the Yakima and Kittitas irrigation districts surveyed lakes Kitcheols (now Keechelus) and Kachees, and Cle Elum to construct crib dams for irrigation

Sept 24 -- Five robbers hit the Benjamin E. Snipes and Company Bank in Roslyn when the payroll for the Roslyn mine is delivered -- upwards of $100,000 is stolen

1893 Ellensburgh re-incorporates under new state laws

Kittitas County suffers through the financial Panic of 1893

1894 The spelling of Ellensburgh is changed to Ellensburg by the United States Post Office

Stampede rail tunnel completed

Barge Hall is constructed to house the Washington State Normal School

1898 Roslyn Public Library is founded

1900 Cle Elum is incorporated

1902 Cascade Canal Company organizes and plans to construct two large canals capable of irrigating more than 45,000 acres

Townsite of Easton is platted

1903 Large-scale commercial logging led by the Cascade Logging Company begins operating in Kittitas Valley

1905 First automobile crosses the Snoqualmie Pass

1906 Flood waters swept through Cle Elum, covering Main Street

1907 The Evening Record is started (now called the Ellensburg Daily Record)

The Wenatchee National Forest is created

Easton's saloon district burns in November

1908 A powder magazine in Cle Elum explodes, killing eight people

The town of Kittitas is platted

The early telephone company becomes Ellensburg Telephone Company.

1909 Mine explosion in Roslyn kills 10 people

First log drive on the Yakima River takes place. The practice came to an end in 1912 because it was too dangerous and more modern equipment was invented.

Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad reaches Kittitas County

1910 Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad begins daily local service

1913 The entire business district in Easton burns to the ground

1915 The new Snoqualmie Pass road was dedicated, connecting Kittitas County to the Puget Sound area

1916 Ronald School burns

1918 June 25 -- Cle Elum suffers a devastating fire

1923 Sept 13-15 -- First Ellensburg Rodeo takes place

1926 Construction of what would become the High Line Canal (officially called the Kittitas Division of the Yakima Project) begins when the Bureau of Reclamation becomes involved

1928 Ronald suffers from a fire that destroys more than 30 homes and 80 acres of forest when a 250 gallon still explodes in a tunnel underneath two businesses. The still is believed to be the largest in the state and supplied alcohol to many larger cities during the Prohibition.

1930s The Great Depression brings novice miners to the Roslyn and Ronald areas looking for work to support their families.

1931 Kittitas incorporates 62 years after it was founded. The following June the businesses on South Main Street burn to the ground.

1934 Coal miners put down their tools and go on strike

1937 Washington State Normal School becomes Central Washington College of Education

1942 The airfield in Ellensburg is named Bowers Field in honor of Ensign Keith Bowers, the first man from Kittitas County killed in World War II. Bowers was at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked by the Japanese. The field became a training base for military pilots.

1959 The contract to build Wanapum Dam is issued to Grant County Constructors

1960s The Golden Thunderbird Mining Company tries to evict the residents of Liberty in a lawsuit. The state Supreme Court rules in favor of the residents.

1961 Central Washington College of Education becomes Central Washington State College

Kittitas County Historical Society is organized

1963 The last Roslyn coal mine -- No. 9 -- closes. More than 50 million tons of coal were shipped from Roslyn when coal was king.

1972 Lourdes Academy Ellensburg closes after 64 years of providing parochial education in the Kittitas Valley

1974 Liberty, the oldest continuously lived in mining town in the Washington territory, is placed on the National Register of Historic Places

Central Washington University student Susan Rancourt, an 18-year-old freshman was reported missing on April 17. Her disappearance and murder were later linked to serial killer Ted Bundy

1977 July 1 -- Downtown Ellensburg is added to the National Register of Historic Places

Central Washington State College becomes Central Washington University

Ellensburg hosts the Washington State Conference for Women, part of the state's participation in International Women's Year

1978 President Jimmy Carter signs a congressional bill clearing Liberty residents to gain clear title to their land

1980 May 18 -- Mount St. Helens erupts. Passes leading into and out of Ellensburg are closed as day turns to night

1987 May 8 -- First Railroad Historic District is added to the National Register of Historic Places

1990 The city of Roslyn becomes the setting for the network television series "Northern Exposure."

1994 Fred Meyer Corporation proposes developing a large retail store in Ellensburg

1996 The historic Moose Lodge's roof collapses on Dec 27, under the weight of heavy snow. A state of emergency is declared, but several other structures also sustain heavy damage. Estimated damage is $20 million

1999 Schaake Corporation closes down Ellensburg feed lot operations; relocates to the Quincy area

Jan 8 -- Kittitas County Fair and Rodeo Grounds joins the National Register of Historic Places

More History to be added soon...

2007 Ellensburg is chosen as one of the Dozen Distinctive Destinations of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


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Ellensburg, WA 98926

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