Franklin County

Franklin County is in south-central Washington State. The county originally formed on November 28th, 1883 when Franklin County separated from Whitman County. The new county was named after Benjamin Franklin. The Columbia River marks the western border The Snake River forms the southern and eastern borders. Franklin County is adjacent to Adams County to the north, Whitman County to the east, Walla Walla County to the southeast, Columbia County to the southeast, Benton County to the southwest and Grant County to the northwest. Franklin County is approximately 1,265 square miles is size.

Native Americans were the first settlers in the region, as they fished from the Columbia and Snake Rivers. The Native Americans would trade with the occasional traveler who was passing through the area. It seems probable that they traded with the Lewis and Clark Expedition when the expedition was in the area in 1805. The Lewis and Clark Expedition camped in the Pasco area of Franklin County. The campsite is now a part of Sacajawea State Park.

In 1884 the Northern Pacific railroad completed a bridge across the Snake River at Ainsworth. This location is the junction of the Columbia and Snake Rivers. This bridge allowed the transcontinental railroad to directly connect to tracks leading to Portland, Oregon and ultimately to the western terminus in Tacoma.

During World War II Franklin and Benton Counties grew rapidly due to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Established in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project, Hanford was the first full scale plutonium reactor in the world.  Plutonium manufactured at Hanford was used in the first nuclear bombs including the bombs dropped on Japan in World War II.

Franklin County has a large agricultural economy. After the completion on Grand Coulee Dam and the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project in 1948, the area grew as irrigation methods were developed. The need for labor brought migrant workers to the area.

Franklin County is considered one of the fastest growing counties with over 21% increase in population since 2010. In 2006, Franklin County became the first Hispanic majority county in the Pacific Northwest.

The largest city in Franklin County is Pasco with an estimated population in 2019 of 75,432 people. Pasco is the County Seat for the county. Kennewick, Richland and Pasco make up the Tri-Cities metropolitan region in Washington State.

Things to do and see in Franklin County

Visit the Palouse Falls State Park. This 94-acre park is best known for the being home to the “State of Washington’s Official Waterfall.” Created by the Missoula Floods at the end of the last ice age, this almost 200 ft waterfall is simply stunning.

Check out the Franklin County Museum in Pasco. Learn about the history of the county and the region. Discover little known facts such as when Pasco briefly making a bid to be the capitol of Washington State in 1889 but was unsuccessful.

Have a picnic at the Sacajawea Historical State Park. Enjoy this 267 acre day use park where the Columbia and Snake rivers meet. Visit me Sacajawea Interpretive Center, stroll along the river, fish, launch your boat for a day of fun on the river.

Enjoy some Wildlife Watching at the McNary National Wildlife Refuge. With over 200 species of birds and 15,000 acres, there will be many opportunities to observe wildlife in a native setting. Enjoy an easy hike on the McNary Wildlife Nature Loop.

Catch a flight at the Tri-Cities Airport. Looking for a getaway? Flights to Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Phoenix and Denver are just some of the major destinations you can travel to from Tri-Cities Airport. The world is literally a plane ride away.

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Pasco
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Explore Washington State

Explore Washington State is committed to highlighting every corner of Washington State, publishing new content focused on hidden gems, travel tips, outdoor activities and more throughout the week. Remember, there is always more to explore!