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Richland is a city in Benton Countymarker in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of Washingtonmarker, at the confluence of the Yakima and the Columbia Rivers. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 38,708. April 1, 2009 estimates from the Washington State Office of Financial Management put the city's population at 47,410. Along with the nearby cities of Pascomarker and Kennewickmarker, Richland is one of the Tri-Cities of Washington, home to the Hanford nuclear sitemarker.


For centuries, the village of Chemna stood at the mouth of the current Yakima River. Today that village site is called Columbia Point. From this village the Wanapum, Yakama and Walla Walla Indians harvested the salmon runs entering the Yakima River. Captain William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition visited the mouth of the Yakima River on October 17, 1805.

Formative years

In 1904-1905, W.R. Amon and his son Howard purchased and proposed a town site on the north bank of the Yakima River. Postal authorities approved the designation of this town site as Richland in 1905. In 1906, the town was registered at the Benton Countymarker Courthouse. It was incorporated on April 28, 1910 as a Washington Fourth Class City.

The war years

Richland was a small farm town until the US Army purchased 1660 km² (640 sq mi - half the size of Rhode Islandmarker) along the Columbia River for the war effort, evicting the 300 residents of Richland as well as those of the now vanished towns of White Bluffsmarker and Hanfordmarker just upriver. The army turned it into a bedroom community for the workers on its Manhattan Project facility at the nearby Hanford Engineering Works (now the Hanford site). The population increased from 300 in July and August 1943 to 25,000 by the end of World War II in August 1945. Richland became a closed city (federally controlled Atomic Energy community), with access restricted to residents and others authorized by the U.S. Army. Mail was postmarked Seattlemarker and many addresses were misleading. All land and buildings were owned by the government. Housing was assigned to residents and token rent was collected; families were assigned to houses or duplexes; single people were placed in apartments or barracks. Everything necessary was provided, from free bus service to light bulbs, and trees were planted in people's yards by the government.

As much of the city was planned by the Army Corps of Engineers many of the streets are named after famous engineers. For instance, the main street (George Washington Way) is named after the first president, who was a surveyor; Stevens Drive is named after John Frank Stevens, chief engineer of the Panama Canalmarker and Stevens Passmarker; Goethals Drive is named after George W. Goethals, designer of the Panama Canal; and Thayer Drive is named after Sylvanus Thayer, founder of the first professional school of engineering in the United States at Dartmouth Collegemarker. The rule is that if alphabet houses reside on a given street, it is named either after an engineer or a type of tree.

The end of the war

With the end of the war, that Hanford workers camp, originally located fifteen miles (24 km) north of Richland at the old Hanford town site, was closed down. Although many of them moved away as the war effort wound down, some of these workers moved to Richland, offsetting the depopulation that might otherwise have occurred.

The Cold War boom

Fears that the Soviet Unionmarker's intentions were aggressive set off the Cold War in 1947. The capacity to produce plutonium was increased beginning in 1947. When the Soviet Union developed and tested their first nuclear weapon in 1949, the U.S. nuclear program was reinvigorated. A second post-WW II expansion began in 1950 as a result of the war in Korea. Richland's Cold War construction boom resulted in Richland's population growing to 27,000 people by 1952. Many of these people lived in a construction camp of trailers located in what is now north Richland. With time, these trailers were vacated and the core city grew.

Transition to private property

The government got out of the landlord business in 1957 when the real estate was sold to the residents. Most of the people lived in duplexes; senior tenants were given the option to purchase the building; junior tenants were given the option to purchase lots in a newly platted area of north Richland. Richland was incorporated in 1958 as a chartered First Class City, an open self-governed city. As part of the transition, large areas of undeveloped land became city property. Richland's financial dependency on the federal Hanford facility changed little at this time because Hanford's mission as a weapons materials production site continued during the Cold War years.

After the production boom

With the shutdown of the last production reactor in 1987, the area transitioned to environmental cleanup and technology. Now, many Richland residents are employed at the Hanford site in its environmental cleanup mission.

Richland contains many reminders of its past. Richland High School's sports teams are called the Bombers - complete with a mushroom cloud logo, (at one point there was a campaign to change this to the more politically correct B-17 logo after the B-17G "Day's Pay" bought by Hanford workers in 1944 for the U.S. Army Air Forces, but the cloud still prevails). Hanford, the city's other high school, has a less controversial falcon as its mascot.

Some of the streets platted after 1958 are named after generals in the U.S. Army: (Patton Street, MacArthur Street, Sherman Street, Pershing Avenue, and after various nuclear themes, (Einstein Avenue, Curie Street, Proton Lane, Log lane, and Nuclear Lane). A local museum (Columbia River Exhibition of History, Science, and Technology (CREHST)) features exhibits of nuclear technology.

Washington State University, Tri-Cities was founded in northern Richland in 1989, growing out of a former Joint Graduate Center which had been affiliated with the University of Washingtonmarker, Oregon State Universitymarker, and Washington State Universitymarker. Richland is also home to Kadlec Medical Center. Columbia Basin College Medical Training Center is near Kadlec hospital.



After the end of World War II Richland continued to be a center of production and research into nuclear energy, and related technology.

It has been the home of Pacific Northwest National Laboratorymarker( PNNL)) since 1965. One of the two Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatorymarker sites is located immediately north of Richland. Numerous smaller high technology business and expert consultants have grown up around the Richland technology center as well.

Major employers include Battelle Memorial Institute operating PNNL, Bechtel National Inc. building a waste vitrification plant, Washington River Protection Solutions controlling operations of the nuclear waste tank farms, Washington Closure providing waste management and cleanup efforts including decontamination and demolition (D&D) of facilities along the Columbia River, CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company responsible for D&D of facilities on the site's Central Plateau, Duratek Federal Services, Inc. providing services to the U.S. government, Energy Northwest generating nuclear power at a nearby reactor facility, Areva creating nuclear fuel, Lockheed Martin Services, Inc. providing technology services and the U.S. Department of Energy which operates the Hanford Sitemarker.


Agriculture is important in the Richland area; the Tri-Cities area of the Columbia Basin grows excellent produce. Richland hosts an important food processor, ConAgra/Lamb-Weston, which processes potatoes and other foods.

The production of wine in the lower Columbia Basin has become one of the main industries. Richland lies at the center of a flourishing viticulture area which produces internationally recognized wines in four major Washington appellations and serves as an ideal center for wine tours. The Columbia Valley appellation which surrounds Richland contains over 7,000 hectares planted to wine grapes. On the west the Yakima Valley appellation includes 5,000 hectares. To the east, the Walla Walla Valley appellation includes 500 hectares of wine grapes. To the immediate west, Red Mountainmarker, with only 350 hectares planted to grapes, produces world-class wines (consistent award-winning Cabernet Sauvignons from Washington's first quarter-century of fine winemaking often rely on fruit from Red Mountain vineyards near Richland). Barnard Griffin Winery, Bookwalter Winery and Tagaris Winery, all located in Richland, are three of the many regional wineries. Another 20 wineries lie within a 15-minute drive from Richland, and more than 100 wineries within a radius.

Wine-tasting rooms in Richland

Business and industry

The Tri-City Industrial Development Council promotes both agricultural related and technology related industries in the region.


The Richland School District serves the cities of Richland and West Richlandmarker with nine elementary schools (Badger Mountain, Jason Lee, Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, Marcus Whitman, Sacajawea, Tapteal, William Wiley, and White Bluffs); three middle schools (Carmichael, Chief Joseph, and Enterprise); and three high schools: Richland High School (Bombers), Rivers Edge Alternative High School (Firebirds), and Hanford High School (Falcons). The school district's 2006 budget was about $70 million and there are approximately 10,150 students and 1,100 employees in the school district.

Columbia Basin College, primarily located in Pascomarker, has a small branch campus in Richland.

Washington State University, Tri-Cities, established in North Richland in 1989, sits on the western bank of the Columbia River. The university offers a number of undergraduate and graduate degree programs; it first admitted freshmen and sophomores in the fall of 2007.



Richland's exceptional climate makes golf one of the most popular sports. Three 18 hole courses and one 9 hole course designed for varying levels of skill are available in Richland and ten beautiful courses are found in the area.

Outdoor activities

Richland has developed a number of parks, several of them fronting on the Columbia and Yakima Rivers. The rivers provide boating, water skiing, fishing, kayaking and waterfowl hunting opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast. Snow skiing and hiking are no more than 1–2 hours away.

Richland lies within a semi-arid, shrub-steppe environment, and has a number of interesting natural areas within or contiguous to the city:
  • The Yakima River delta and wetlands lie within Richland and provide habitat for many birds and animals. The area around the Yakima delta provides a wooded variation of the normal shrub-steppe.
  • The Badger Mountain Centennial Preserve, located on the edge of Richland in the Richland GMA area, provides a spectacular view of the Tri-Cities as well as the Columbia and Yakima rivers. A non-profit group, Friends of Badger Mountain, worked to procure this shrub-steppe area that has most native vegetation intact and then in 2005 built a trail to the summit so others can enjoy it. The 2-kilometer trail rises 300 meters above the trailhead in Richland.

  • The Arid Lands Ecology Reserve, at the western edge of Richland on the Hanford Reservation, is the last remaining large block of undisturbed shrub-steppe habitat in the Pacific Northwest. The site has been closed to public since the 1940s, preserving its character. It is managed as an environmental research area and wildlife reserve.
  • North of Richland, the Hanford Reachmarker, the last free-flowing stretch of the Columbia River in the U.S., provides both excellent sightseeing and superior salmon fishing. This free-flowing stretch flows through the Hanford Reach National Monumentmarker, which was created by Presidential proclamation in 2000, is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Volunteers are working to construct an interpretive center on Richland's Columbia Point at the confluence of the Yakima a Columbia; as of January 2006, $22M of the necessary funds are in hand and construction is expected later in the year.

Professional sports

Three professional sports teams are found in the immediate area:


Richland is located at (46.279657, -119.281377) .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 37.8 square miles (97.8 km²), of which, 34.8 square miles (90.2 km²) of it is land and 2.9 square miles (7.6 km²) of it (7.79%) is water. Elevation at the airport is 120 m (394 ft).


Richland receives about 7 inches of precipitation per year giving it a cold desert climate and resulting in a shrub-steppe environment. Summers are hot with infrequent thunderstorms, while winters are milder than in other parts of Eastern Washington with snow falling only occasionally but rarely accumulating.


As of the census of 2000, there were 38,708 people, 15,549 households, and 10,682 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,111.8 people per square mile (429.2/km²). There were 16,458 housing units at an average density of 472.7/sq mi (182.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 89.55% White, 1.37% African American, 0.76% Native American, 4.06% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 1.85% from other races, and 2.31% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race was 4.72% of the population.

There were 15,549 households out of which 34.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56% were married couples living together, 9.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.3% were non-families. 27.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.02.

In the city the population was spread out with 27.2% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 27.1% from 25 to 44, 25.4% from 45 to 64, and 12.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 96 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $53,092, and the median income for a family was $61,482. Males had a median income of $52,648 versus $30,472 for females. The per capita income for the city was $25,494. About 5.7% of families and 8.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.8% of those under age 18 and 5.6% of those age 65 or over.

Based on per capita income, one of the more reliable measures of affluence, Richland ranks 83rd of 522 areas ranked in the state of Washington—the highest rank achieved in Benton County.

Famous residents

Sister city

See also


  • Richland, Celebrating Its Heritage; Barbara J. Kubik; City of Richland, Washington; 1994
  • Nuclear Culture: Living & Working in the World's Largest Atomic Complex; Paul Loeb; New Society Publishers; 1986; ISBN 0-86571-088-0
  • Federal City Revisited: Atomic Energy and Community Identify in Richland, Washington; Christine F. Noonan; Thesis-Ball State University; 2000
  • Hanford and the Bomb; S.L. Sanger, Living History Press; 1989; ISBN 0-9624867-0-1


External links

Photo gallery

Click on photo for full size image.

Image:FederalBuilding.JPG|Richland Police Station in foreground. Federal offices and courthouse in the background (white building). (January 2006)

Image:RichlandWaHowardAmonPark.JPG|One of a string of parks, Howard Amon Park, along the Columbia river in Richland. Photo taken on a wintery January day. (January 2006)

Image:RichlandWaKadlecHospital.JPG|Kadlec Medical Center, a regional hospital in Richland. (January 2006)

Image:RichlandWaRattlesnakeYakima.jpg|Rattlesnake Mountain and Yakima River from the Richland Horn Rapids area

Image:P1150044.JPG|The view of Rattlesnake Mountain from the Horn Rapids Golf Course in Richland. (January 2006)

Image:RichlandWaRattlesnake-1.jpg|Rattlesnake Mountain as seen from the Richland Horn Rapids area. (January 2006)

Image:RichlandWaPNNL 1.jpg|Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Campus in Richland. PNNL has been operated for the U.S. Department of Energy by Battelle Memorial Institute since 1965. (January 2006)

Image:RichlandWaEMSL.jpg|William R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL), a U.S. Department of Energy national scientific user facility at PNNL. Richland. (January 2006)

Image:P1150058.JPG|This photo shows the Consolidated Information Center (CIC), which is operated jointly by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Washington State University (WSU). It is located on the WSU Tri-Cities campus in Richland. (January 2006)

Image:RichlandWaStatueJohnDamPlaza.JPG|Statue of a girl and a boy reading. This is located in John Dam Plaza, Richland. (January 2006)

Image:RichlandWaOfficeBldgs.JPG|Office buildings located on Jadwin Avenue, Richland. (January 2006)

Image:RichlandWaKadlecHospital.JPG|Kadlec Medical Center, Richland, Washington. (January 2006)

Image:RichlandWaMedicalOffices.JPG|Medical Offices near Kadlec Medical Center, Richland, Washington. (January 2006)

Image:RichlandWaCBCMedical.JPG|Columbia Basin College's new medical training facility under construction near Kadlec Medical Center, Richland, Washington. (January 2006)

Image:RichlandWaCBCRichlandClassrooms.JPG|Columbia Basin College classrooms in Richland (across street from new medical training facility near Kadlec hospital). (January 2006)

Image:RichlandWaLibrary.JPG|Richland Public Library facade. Richland, Washington. (January 2006)

Image:RichlandWaRattlesnakeFromBadger.JPG|Rattlesnake Mountain as seen from the public park on Badger Mountain in Richland. (January 2006)

Image:RichlandWaBadgerTrail.jpg|The public park trail up Badger Mountain in the Badger Mountain Centennial Preserve in Richland. (January 2006)

Image:RichlandWaBadgerTrail-A.jpg|The confluence of the Yakima and the Columbia as seen from Badger Mountain, Richland. (January 2006)

Image:P1150033.JPG|Richland as seen from Badger Mountain, Richland. (January 2006)

Image:RichlandWaBadgerTrail-C.jpg|Rattlesnake as seen from Badger Mountain, Richland. (January 2006)

Image:RichlandWaIndustry.jpg|Industrial Hearth Melting produces Titanium in Richland. (January 2006)

Image:RichlandWaIndustry 2.jpg|Ferguson's Richland Distribution Center. Note new construction in foreground. (January 2006)

Image:FederalBuilding.JPG|Richland Police Station in foreground. Federal offices and courthouse in the background (white building).

Image:RichlandWaHowardAmonPark.JPG|One of a string of parks, Howard Amon Park, along the Columbia River in Richland, on a wintery January day. The conical structure to the right is an open-air stage referred to as "The Fingernail."

Image:P1150044.JPG|The view of Rattlesnake Mountainmarker from the Horn Rapids Golf Course in Richland.

Image:RichlandWaPNNL 1.jpg|Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Campus

Image:RichlandWaOfficeBldgs.JPG|Office buildings along Jadwin Avenue in Richland.

Image:P1150058.JPG|Consolidated Information Center (CIC), operated jointly by PNNLmarker and WSUmarker, on the WSU Tri-Cities campus in Richland.

Image:RichlandWaRattlesnakeYakima.jpg|The view of Rattlesnake Mountain, a windswept treeless sub-alpine ridge 1,060 meters high, from the Horn Rapids Golf Course in Richland.

Image:RichlandWaBadgerTrail-C.jpg|The view from Badger Mountain Centennial Preserve shows Red Mountain in the foreground and Rattlesnake Mountain beyond it. Taken in January, this photo does not show the spectacular spring flower display.

Image:Richland WA Marina Park.JPG|Richland Marina Park seen from the Yachting Club.

Image:Rest Stop Bridge Pano.jpg|Bridge over Columbia River outside Richland, WA. Summer 2009.

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