Pasco [†] is located at the confluence of the Snake, Yakima, and Columbia Rivers, a historical meeting ground for Native Americans and early explorers. The area's abundant fish and mild climate encouraged settlement. The Lewis and Clark expedition camped at what is now Sacajawea State Park in 1805, and in the following years, explorers, fur trappers, and miners settled the area.
The arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad brought more settlers to the Washington Territory and Pasco region. Virgil Bogue, a construction engineer for Northern Pacific Railroad, named Pasco after Cerro de Pasco in the Andes Mountains of Peru after building a railroad there. The county seat and the railroad town of Ainsworth relocated to Pasco in 1886.
The cities of Pasco, Kennewick, and Richland remained relatively small until 1940, containing fewer than 1800 people. The 1941 completion of the Grand Coulee Dam and the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project brought a stable and prosperous agricultural industry to the area. Its vast power and abundant river water also allowed the siting of the Hanford atomic energy plant and the housing of the Manhattan Project. The U.S. government projects transformed the Tri-Cities, causing explosive growth during and after World War II. Their influence continues to impact the area.
Pasco is now an important center for several transportation systems and a node for trade and agriculture.
Parks, Recreation,&Forestry Plan, City of Pasco, WA, 2016, www.pasco-wa.gov, accessed September, 2021.