A Historical Tour of Central Washington

A Historical Tour of Central Washington

Central Washington is a fantastic area to visit if you are a history buff. Each of the communities within Central Washington hold their own unique histories to share, whether it be a memorable landmark, a must-visit museum, or just the city itself. With that being said, continue reading for a historical tour of Central Washington, featuring one historical element from each nearby destination!

Roslyn Cemetery - Roslyn, WA

The Roslyn Cemetery is a location filled with culture and history. There are approximately 5,000 graves in the Roslyn Cemetery and 24 different nationalities are represented here. With this wide range of nationalities, many graves have different designs to represent their culture. Some gravestones are metal crosses while others have intricate carvings. Cemeteries are harsh reminders of some of the hardships humans have endured throughout history, as some of these graves are from the Spanish Flu epidemic and mine explosions in the early 1900s.

Cle Elum Telephone Museum - Cle Elum, WA

The Cle Elum Telephone Museum is the oldest telephone museum west of the Mississippi! The historical museum has displays of some of the earliest telephone technology, with some having origins from 1876. The building in which the Telephone Museum is located is where the last operator-assisted switchboard phone company in the Pacific Northwest was! The company served people from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana until 1966. The building was donated to the Northern Kittitas County Historical Society and now holds many telephone artifacts and coal mining artifacts as well.

Frontier Village - Ellensburg, WA

Located at the Kittitas County Fairgrounds, Frontier Village gives visitors the opportunity to step back in time and see how the original settlers of Kittitas Valley lived. During your time here, you can see a blacksmith doing his trade, learn how to operate a crosscut saw, or buy some nickel candy! There are plenty of historic buildings in the Frontier Village such as the schoolhouse, which actually operated as a school during the early 1900s! If you want to see how some of the early settlers of Central Washington lived, head to Ellensburg and visit Frontier Village!

Ginkgo Petrified Forest - Vantage, WA

The Ginkgo Petrified Forest has tons of history and many of the items seen around can be traced all the way back to the Ice Age. Views of the Columbia River give you a surreal feel while you learn about the Ice Age floods that carved out the area. You have an opportunity to touch some of the petrified wood that has survived throughout the years as well! The Ginkgo Petrified Forest is home to some of the rarest and most diverse tree species in North America, making it a must-visit historical site in Central Washington!

Photo by Lia Simcox

Washington State Ski & Snowboard Museum - Snoqualmie Pass, WA

Snoqualmie Pass has a reputation for great snowboarding and skiing, so why not learn about its history at the Washington State Ski & Snowboard Museum? There are many historical collections here that include Ski Mountaineering, Washington Snow Sports Venues, and Olympians From the Area! Gold medals from Olympians, along with videos, artifacts, and photos will make this trip worthwhile for the ski and snowboard lover. You can learn so much about the history of skiing and snowboarding here as Snoqualmie Pass is one of the most visited locations in the state for those activities.

Photo courtesy of WSSSM

Olmstead Place State Park - Kittitas, WA

Olmstead Place State Park is a 221-acre park that is on an original 1875 pioneer homestead! Originally a spot to raise beef cattle, this state park now reflects the homesteader family life and farming history through things such as historic equipment and buildings. Along with these amazing historical buildings, you can take a stroll through some beautiful heritage gardens that are filled with flowers. So, if you were looking for a place to casually explore some history, Olmstead Place State Park is a great destination!

Photo by Lia Simcox

Thorp Mill - Thorp, WA

Thorp Mill is a very historic location that captures the essence of daily life for early Washington pioneers! Built around 1880, the Thorp Grist Mill is the last remaining mill in the state that made the switch from stone buhr to modern rollers. Since its creation, the mill has been a staple of Kittitas County as it was essential not only for milling, but also for social interaction as well. The Thorp Mill has been restored and maintained, keeping this historic landmark etched in Central Washington history.

Photo by Lia Simcox

Iron Horse State Park - Easton, WA

Part of the Washington State Park System, Iron Horse State Park's origin has some history behind it. This park used to be located within the former right-of-way of The Milwaukee Road, part of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad. Once the railroad bankrupted in 1977, Washington State acquired the land in the early 1980s and transformed it into a great place to hike, mountain bike, and horseback ride! So, if you are in the mood for one of those activities and want to be on some historic land, Iron Horse State Park can provide you with just that!

Liberty Historic Townsite - Liberty, WA

Liberty, Washington has so many historic landmarks that the city itself is a historical district! Liberty was one of several gold mining camps in the area, and the nearby Swauk Creek is famous for producing an abundance of crystalline gold! The buildings within Liberty are quite famous as well. The grocery store was built in the 1890s, the butcher shop in 1894, and the log house was built in the 1890s by the miners themself! So, if you want to take a trip back to the gold rush era, Liberty is a great Central Washington town to visit!

Photo by Lia Simcox

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A Land of Contrasts
From the mighty Columbia River to the snow-capped Cascade Mountains, Kittitas County is a premier destination for outdoor adventure, sunshine, and unique cultural offerings.
Find out more at one of our Visitor Centers:

Ellensburg, WA
609 N. Main St, Ellensburg
(888) 925-2204

Cle Elum, WA
312 W. 1st Street, Cle Elum
(509) 674-6880

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Owned by:  Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce