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Walla Walla is the largest city in and the county seat of Walla Walla Countymarker, Washingtonmarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 29,686 at the 2000 census and 31,350 from the 2008 estimate of the Washington State Office of Financial Management. Walla Walla is in the southeastern region of Washington, approximately four hours by car from Seattle, Washingtonmarker and thirteen miles from the Oregonmarker border.

Whitman College, Walla Walla Community College, and the Washington State Penitentiarymarker are located in Walla Walla. Walla Walla University is located in nearby College Placemarker, Washington. In addition, Baker Boyer Bank, the oldest bank in the state of Washington, was founded in Walla Walla in 1869.

Walla Walla is famous for its sweet onions. Many wineries are located in the area and it is a popular vacation spot for wine enthusiasts.


On September 1, 1836, Marcus Whitman arrived with his wife Narcissa Whitman. Here they established the Whitman Mission in an unsuccessful attempt to convert the local Walla Walla tribe to Christianity. Following a disease epidemic, both were killed by the Cayuse who believed that the missionaries were poisoning the native peoples. Whitman College was established in their honor.

The original Northwest Company and later Hudson's Bay Company Fort Nez Percésmarker fur trading outpost, became a major stopping point for migrants moving west to Oregon Country. The fort has been restored with many of the original buildings preserved . The current Fort Walla Walla contains these buildings, albeit in a different location from the original, as well as a museum about the early settlers' lives.

The Walla Walla River, where it adjoins the Columbia River, was the starting point for the Mullan Roadmarker, constructed between 1859 and 1860 by US Army Lieut. John Mullan, connecting the head of navigation on the Columbia at Walla Walla (i.e., the west coast of the US) with the head of navigation on the Missouri-Mississippimarker (that is, the east and gulf coasts of the US) at Fort Benton, Montanamarker.

Walla Walla was officially incorporated on January 11, 1862. As a result of a gold rush, during this decade the city became the largest community in the territory of Washington, at one point slated to be the new state's capital. The former Governor's mansion still stands in the southern part of the city. Following this period of rapid growth, agriculture became the city's primary industry.

Fort Walla Walla - 1874

Further reading

Geography and climate

Walla Walla is located at (46.065094w, -118.330167e) .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.8 square miles (28.0 km²), of which, 10.8 square miles (28.0 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.18%) is water.

Monthly Normal and Record High and Low Temperatures
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Rec High °F 67 75 77 87 99 107 112 109 99 87 81 65
Norm High °F 40.6 46.9 56 64.1 72 80.3 80.9 80.1 79.3 65.8 50.1 40.8
Norm Low °F 28.8 32.5 36.9 41.3 47.6 54.3 60.7 61.2 52.9 43.6 36 29.3
Rec Low °F -4 -13 4 29 34 39 46 42 32 15 -11 -14
Precip (in) 2.25 1.97 2.2 1.83 1.95 1.15 0.73 0.84 0.83 1.77 2.85 2.51
Source: [20645]


As of the census of 2000 , there are 29,686 people, 10,596 households, and 6,527 families residing in the city. The population density is 2,744.9 people per square mile (1,059.3/km²). According to the census there are 11,400 housing units at an average density of 1,054.1/sq mi (406.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city is 83.79% White, 2.58% African American, 1.05% Native American, 1.24% Asian, 0.23% Pacific Islander, 8.26% from other races, and 2.85% from two or more races. 17.42% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. These are not entirely accurate numbers as the local population has a large number of Hispanic migrant workers who work on asparagus and onion farms.

Of the 10,596 counted households, 30.6% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.4% are married couples living together, 11.0% have a female householder with no husband present, and 38.4% are considered non-families by the U.S. government. 31.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 15.1% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.44 and the average family size is 3.08.

In the city the population is spread out with 21.8% under the age of 18, 14.2% from 18 to 24, 26.5% from 25 to 44, 17.5% from 45 to 64, and 20.1% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 women there are 108.4 men. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 109.1 males. About 89% of the population is Christian.

The median income for a household in the city is $31,855, and the median income for a family is $40,856. Men have a median income of $31,753 versus $23,889 for women. The per capita income for the city is $15,792. 18.0% of the population and 13.1% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 22.8% of those under the age of 18 and 10.5% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Economy and infrastructure


Though wheat is still a big crop, vineyards and wineries have become economically important over the last two decades. In summer 2006, there were over 100 wineries in the greater Walla Walla area. Following the wine boom, the town has developed several top-tier restaurants and hotels. The Marcus Whitman hotel, one of Washington's finest early 1900s hotels, was recently renovated with its original fixtures and furnitures. It is the tallest building in the city, reaching thirteen stories.

Walla Walla Farmers Market

The Walla Walla Sweet Onion is another crop with a rich tradition. Over a century ago on the Island of Corsicamarker, off the west coast of Italymarker, a French soldier named Peter Pieri found an Italian sweet onion seed and brought it to the Walla Walla Valley. Impressed by the new onion's winter hardiness, Pieri, and the Italian immigrant farmers who comprised much of Walla Walla's gardening industry, harvested the seed. The sweet onion developed over several generations through the process of carefully hand selecting onions from each year's crop, ensuring exceptional sweetness, jumbo size and round shape. The Walla Walla Sweet Onion is also designated under federal law as a protected agricultural crop. In 2007, the Walla Walla Sweet Onion became Washington's official state vegetable.

Walla Walla Sweet Onions get their sweetness from low sulfur content, which is half that of an ordinary yellow onion. Walla Walla Sweets are 90 percent water. That, combined with Walla Walla’s mild climate and rich soil, gives the onion its sweetness. The Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival is held annually in July.

From asparagus and corn to cherries and strawberries, Walla Walla growers produce produce that is available to visitors at the farmers' market from May until October; located on the corner of 4th and Main. A selection of bakery treats, flowers and plants, creative arts, and craft items are also on sale at the farmers' market open 9:00am to 1:00pm both Saturday and Sunday.

Wine industry

Walla Walla has experienced an explosion in its wine industry over the last ten years. Producing some of the finest American wines, Walla Walla is quickly becoming a destination for wine connoisseurs the world over. Several of the wineries have received top scores from wine publications such as Wine Spectator, The Wine Advocate and Wine and Spirits. L'Ecole 41, Woodward Canyon and Leonetti Cellar were the pioneers starting in the 1970s and 1980s. They have been joined by many noteworthy producers like Walla Walla Village Winery, Cayuse Vineyards, Spring Valley Vineyards, Waterbrook Winery, Reininger Winery, Forgeron Cellars, Tamarack Cellars, Seven Hills Winery, Pepper Bridge Winery, Amavi Cellars, and Walla Walla Vintners as well as dozens of smaller wineries. Although most of the early recognition went to the wines made from Merlot and Cabernet, Syrah is fast becoming a star varietal in this appellation. Today there are over 100 wineries in the Walla Walla Valley and a host of shops catering to the wine industry.

Walla Walla Community College capitalizes on the opportunity to market the wine industry. The school offers an associate's degree in winemaking through its 4-year-old Institute of Enology and Viticulture, which operates its own commercial winery.

One challenge to growing grapes in Walla Walla Valley is the risk of a killing freeze during the winter. They average one every six or seven years and the last one, in 2004, destroyed about 75% of the wine grape crop in the valley.

The wineries generate over $100 million (US) to the valley annually.

Corrections industry

The largest prison in Washington is the Washington State Penitentiarymarker (WSP) located in Walla Walla. Originally opened in 1887, it now houses about 2000 offenders. In addition, there are about 1000 staff members. In 2005, the financial benefit to the local economy was estimated to be about $55 million through salaries, medical services, utilities, and local purchases. Washington is a death penalty state, and occasional executions take place at the state pen, though the last execution took place in 2001. Washington is also one of two states to still allow hanging as a choice when sentenced to death, there has not been a hanging since May 1994 (the default method of execution was changed to lethal injection in 1996). The penitentiary is undergoing an extensive expansion project that will increase the prison population to 2,500 violent offenders and double the staff size.


Transportation to Walla Walla includes service by air through Walla Walla Regional Airportmarker and highway access primarily from U.S. Route 12. Washington State Department of Transportation is now engaged in a long-term process of widening this road into a four-lane divided highway between Pasco, Washingtonmarker and Walla Walla. The city is also served by Valley Transitand the Grape Line service to Pasco.


In 1972, Walla Walla established a sister city relationship with Sasayamamarker, Japanmarker.

The trading card game Magic: The Gathering was created at Whitman College during the 1993 school year.

Terminology coined in Walla Walla

Proud residents of the town often brag about it as "the town so nice they named it twice." Walla Walla is a Native American name that means "Place of Many Waters." The original name of the town was Steptoeville named after Colonel Edward Steptoe.

Famous Walla Walla Residents

The famous Lebanese poet, writer, and philosopher Mikha'il Na'ima, author of "The Book of Mirdad," began his writing career in Walla Walla in 1919.

Former AWA and UWF professional wrestler Colonel DeBeers resided in Walla Walla for a time, where he operated Divine Felines Kitten Farm. The business raised three prize winning cats.

NFL Quarterback Drew Bledsoe lived in Walla Walla while he was in high school before entering Washington State Universitymarker in 1990. Bledsoe went on to be drafted by the New England Patriots, where he spent nearly a decade.

The actor Adam West, TV's Batman, grew up in Walla Walla. Then known as Bill Anderson, he attended Walla Walla High School during his freshman and sophomore years before moving with his family to Seattle. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature and a minor in Psychology from Whitman College[2] in Walla Walla.

United States Army general and World War II hero Jonathan Wainwright was born in Walla Walla.

Actor Connor Trinneer, from Star Trek: Enterprise, was born in Walla Walla.

NFL punter T. J. Conley was born and raised in Walla Walla. He was the starting punter for the University of Idaho Vandals and currently plays for the New York Jets

Ryan Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq (2007-2009), and Pakistan (2004-2007), and who also served as Ambassador to Syria, Kuwait, and Lebanon, graduated from Whitman College in 1971 .

NFL wide receiver Charly Martin is originally from Walla Walla.

William O. Douglas attended Whitman College in Walla Walla, graduating in 1920. He went on to become the longest-serving justice in the history of the United States Supreme Court.

Uses in popular culture

Among references in popular culture, Walla Walla is mentioned in two different Warner Bros. cartoons. The city is said to be the location for the headquarters of the fictional Little Giant Vacuum Cleaner Company in the 1953 animated short film A Mouse Divided. In the Merrie Melodies short Transylvania 6-5000, which was released ten years later, the name of the city is used as a magic incantation by Bugs Bunny to change a vampire into a two-headed vulture.

Walla Walla appears in Walt Kelly's fractured yuletide carol, "Deck Us All With Boston Charlie" in the comic strip Pogo: "Deck us all with Boston Charlie, Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo!.."

In Captain Underpants, the Lil' Wiseguy Novelty Company, where George and Harold order a 3-D Hypno Ring from, is headquartered in Walla Walla.

American punk rock band The Offspring also wrote a song called Walla Walla about the nearby state penitentiary in Americana, their fifth album.

In The Simpsons episode Homie the Clown Krusty the Clown opens up a clown college and in his class gives his students some examples of funny place names including "Walla Walla, Keokukmarker, Cucamongamarker, Seattlemarker".

In an episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, comedian Ryan Stiles mentioned Walla Walla as one of the unlikely cities to have a song written about them.

In the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Eddie Valliant suggests that Jessica look for Roger in "ever try Walla Walla?"

In 1952 Republic Pictures released a Judy Canova movie called "The WAC From Walla Walla," but its title was its only reference to Walla Walla.

Walla Walla is mentioned in the 1948 book Flak Bait, about B-26 bombers in World War II as an example of a typical American soldiers' hometown.

In Halo 2 a default name in multi-player games is Walla Walla.

In the 1960's, part of George Carlin's on-stage act was as a DJ for "Wonderful WINO Radio", located in "Western Walla Walla".


  1. Travel & Outdoors | Here's to you, Walla Walla | Seattle Times Newspaper
  2. NWsource: Travel - Walla Walla, Washington Introduction : Overview
  4. U.S. Department of State,

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