Home » The County » County History
Established in February of 1909, Grant County is named after President Ulysses S. Grant. Our main industry during the territorial days of the 1850s was stock raising. But by the 1880s, agricultural production had begun to take over. Numerous towns were planted and people streamed into the county. Fertile soil and abundant sources of surface and ground water promoted the development of fruit orchards.
Railroads fueled rapid growth and development within the county in the late 1800s and early 1900s. By 1930, the depression and severe droughts had reduced Grant County's population by more than a third.
In 1933, the U.S. Congress authorized the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam and the Columbia Basin Project. Stimulated by irrigated agriculture, more than twenty-five food processing plants were established and the local population tripled.
By 1950, the Columbia Basin Project was the nation's largest single reclamation project. Construction of the irrigation system included about 2,300 miles of canals and laterals and 3,200 miles of drains and wasteways.
The irrigation system currently serves more than 550,000 acres and about 6,000 farms. During World War II, Moses Lake became the home of Larsen A ir Force Base, a training facility for American bomber pilots. In 1965, the base was decommissioned and the property became the Port of Moses Lake, the home of Grant County International Airport. The facility serves as a flight-training center for Japan Air Lines and both domestic and other foreign airlines use the field for training pilots and flight crews.
As a result of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helen's, Grant County experienced an awesome geological phenomenon in the form of ash. Up to six inches of ash was introduced to the area leaving a lasting mark in our history.
It took major forces of nature to produce such a scenic area. Fire, ice, floods, and volcanoes all played major roles in shaping Grant County. Beginning 100,000 years ago a great glacial ice dam created Glacial Lake Missoula. Tremendous volumes of water eroded the dam as the lake drained. Evidence indicates that glaciers advanced and blocked the area as many as 85 times in the last 16,000 years. The turbulence of the floods waters eroded the surface soils and basalt underneath, leaving behind the Grand Coulee, Dry Falls and the Drumheller Channels. Dry Falls is the site of a waterfall that was 3.5 miles wide and 400 ft. high. The Drumheller Channels are one of eight National Natural Landmarks.
Ice Age Floods Institute
Historical Walking Tour
Phone: 509-633-3074 or 800-268-5332
Coulee City, WA
The town of Coulee Dam boasts a history rich in stories of the building of the mighty Grand Coulee Dam. From the well planned Engineer's Town to an entire section of Mason City that was moved to make way for the construction of the third powerhouse, Coulee Dam holds a vast treasure of information just waiting to be explored. Start at the Dam's Visitor Arrival Center and follow the signs. Pictorial signs on the bridge and walking museum.