Lewis and Clark in Richland

The Plan

On October 16th, 1805 Richland was put on the map thanks to the famous cross-country journey by Lewis and Clark. After purchasing Louisiana from France in 1803, President Jefferson wanted to explore more of his great country. He wanted to affirm the sovereignty of the United States, find a waterway to the Pacific Ocean and establish trade with the Natives. While many men were up for this task, he selected his personal secretary Meriweather Lewis, who in turn recruited his good friend and Second Lieutenant, William Clark.

On their journey of two years, they entered eleven states including Washington. They were adamant on keeping journals of their travels and findings; everything from the weather to cultural traditions and languages of the Natives.

First Impression of Richland

Included in their journals was Clark’s first impression of the area of Richland once he canoed up the Columbia to the Yakima River, thus making him the first explorer to enter the area. He wrote, “Rivers filled with ‘incredible’ numbers of spawned-out salmon and shore was covered with many mat-covered Indian lodges.” This wasn’t his only observation though, he went on to write that he believed the Natives to have around 10,000 pounds of dried salmon.

The exploration was deemed successful due to the relationships they were able to create with Natives along the way, and finding the waterway to the Pacific Ocean.


While Lewis and Clark discovered the area of Richland and the surrounding towns, it was only in the 1860’s and 70’s that ranchers and farmers actually began their move to the area. And a little over one hundred years after they stepped out of the canoe, Richland became officially incorporated in 1910 after a change of name from “Benton” to Richland.

To Learn More

If you’re interested in finding out more about Lewis & Clark’s expedition, below are local resources.

Sacajawea State Park and Interpretive Center is located in nearby Pasco and featured interactive exhibits, and information on the local tribes.

Benton County Historical Museum located in Kennewick provides visitors with colorful displays of their experiences and great information along with local history.

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MacKenzie Passegger

MacKenzie Passegger is the face behind our various social media accounts, and also routinely writes articles on our blogs (that you’re hopefully enjoying). She's a Washington state native who found herself settling in Austria after bouncing around Europe. When her toddler isn’t keeping her on her toes, she enjoys cooking, craft beer & traveling back home. Being away from Washington allows her to have a different perspective and has deepened her love for the Evergreen State.


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