FAR OUT FACTS
Palouse wheat field
Every time I sit down to write about another area or special attraction I'm always struck by how extraordinary this state really is. Regions throughout Washington, distinguished by their unique cultures, geology, and climates, make this a land of great diversity. Since the inception of Travel In Washington , I've been keeping a running list of notable facts and features about the state. Here's what I've collected so far; it's pretty amazing. I'll be adding more as I learn about them, and I invite our readers to clue me in on the ones I've missed.
Ape Cave ( Mount St. Helens ) - formed from a basalt flow over 2,000 years ago; at 12,810' this is the longest lava tube in the 48 contiguous states, and one of the longest of its kind in the world; explore it by hiking up the Ape Cave Trail (see Mt. St. Helens in National Parks under our "Outdoor Fun" section).
Apple Tree (Old Apple Tree Park, Vancouver ) - purportedly the oldest apple tree in the Northwest; planted in 1826 by Dr. John McLoughlin
Astoria-Megler Bridge (Wahkiakum County) - near the mouth of the Columbia this bridge spans the river between Washington and Oregon; with truss spans of 616', 1232' and 616', this is the longest continuous steel span truss bridge in the world; its total length is 4.1 miles
Beacon Rock ( Skamania ) - 848' high; the second highest monolith in the world; Gibraltar is the highest
Boeing's 747/767 Assembly Plant ( Everett ) - the largest building by volume in the world; it covers 62 acres, and is 11 stories high; the railroad spur that delivers parts to the plant climbs 600' in just over 3 miles, and is the second steepest standard gauge railroad in the world
Cape Flattery ( Neah Bay ) - the most northwesterly point in the contiguous 48 states; the Makah Nation welcomes visitors across their lands on the North Olympic coast to a scenic viewpoint that overlooks the Pacific Ocean and Tatoosh Island
Cascade Railroad Tunnel (near the summit at Stevens Pass on US 2) - one of the longest railroad tunnels in North America at 7.79 miles long
Codger Pole ( Colfax ) - at 65' this is purportedly the world's largest chain-saw sculpture
Columbia River - the largest river in volume in the western United States; it travels 1,243 miles from its headwaters in the Canadian Rockies of British Columbia, dropping nearly 975' along its course, before emptying roughly 2 million gallons of water per second into the Pacific Ocean; it is also considered one of the world's greatest sources of hydroelectric power with 11 dams, including the Grand Coulee and Bonneville
Dry Falls ( Coulee City ) - an ancient remnant of the catastrophic floods that surged across the upper Columbia Basin during the last Ice Age; today this dry cataract is purported to be the greatest waterfall ever documented; it is 3.5 miles wide, with a 400' drop (Niagara is 1 mile wide and drops 165')
Dungeness Spit ( Sequim ) - the longest natural sandspit in the United States, at 5.5 miles; also the site of the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge
Emmons Glacier ( Mount Rainier ) - the largest glacier in the 48 contiguous states; located on the northeast side of the mountain, it can be seen by hiking up from the trailhead just west of the White River Campground
Father's Day - founded in Spokane in 1910
Floating Bridges - four of the world's eight floating highway bridges are located in Washington; at 7,518', the Albert D. Rosellini Bridge (Evergreen Point) over Lake Washington (SR 520) has the longest floating span in the world; others in the state are the Lacey V. Murrow Memorial/ Homer Hadley Bridges (I-90 over Lake Washington), and the Hood Canal Bridge (SR 104)
Fred Redmon Memorial Bridge (I-82, Between Ellensburg and Yakima ) - the longest single concrete arch bridge in North America, as well as the 13th longest in the world; its total span is 1366.67', with an arch span of 549.5', and a height of 330'
Gardiner Cave (northeast corner of Washington) - located in Crawford State Park; at 850' long it is thought to be the largest limestone cavern in Washington
Geoduck (pronounced Gooey-duck) - a Northwest delicacy and the largest clam in North America, some weighing as much as 40 lbs; the world's largest octopuses live in the Puget Sound, some weighing up to 300 lbs; the Northwest's Pacific Giant salamander is the largest in the world and has measured over 12 inches in length
Ginkgo Petrified Forest ( Vantage in Central Washington) - the largest of three petrified forests in the world with over 200 species of trees identified, including the ancient Chinese Ginkgo
Goldendale Observatory (Klickitat County) - the largest public telescope in the United States at 24.5 inches
Grand Coulee Dam (Northeastern Washington) - completed in 1941 this is one of the largest concrete structures in the world, containing nearly 12 million cubic yards of concrete; it is 500' wide at the base, 4,173' across the crest, stands 550' above bedrock (as high as the Washington Monument); it's the country's largest hydroelectric producer and the world's third largest - generating 6,494,000 kilowatts in a single instant - more power than a million locomotives. It also provides irrigation to the Columbia Basin Project, the largest single project of it kind in the Pacific Northwest
Hell's Canyon (accessed by boat out of Clarkston ) - the deepest gorge in North America plunging 7800' at its lowest point; located along the Snake River between Idaho on the east and Washington and Oregon on the west; this National Recreation Area has some of the country's most spectacular wildlands and scenic vistas
Ed Hendler Bridge (Tri-Cities Area) - spans the Columbia River between Pasco and Kennewick ; at a total length of 2,503' this is the second longest concrete "cable-stayed" bridge in the world
Ice Harbor Lock (Tri-Cities Area) - located on the lower Snake River, this is one of the highest single-lift locks in the world - rising 103'.
Kingdome ( Seattle ) - has the largest self-supporting concrete roof in the world, at 250' high and 720' in diameter; record attendance was 74,000 in 1976
Lake Chelan - this glacier-fed lake is nestled in a gorge considered to be one of the deepest in North America. Chelan is 55 miles long, varies in width from 1 to 2 miles, and is the third deepest lake in the United States, at 1,486'
Long Beach Peninsula (Pacific Coast, southeastern Washington) - 28 miles of hard sandy beach; purportedly the world's longest "driveable" beach
Mineral - has the smallest United States Post Office still in operation
Mount Olympus (Olympic National Park)- the wettest place in the continental United States; averaging an annual rainfall of 200 inches (that's 16.7 feet) - with over 3/4 of its precipitation falling between October and March; at 7,965', it also receives the most snow in the contiguous United States
Mount Rainier - the greatest single-peak glacial system in the United States, its Paradise Glacier has the largest glacier cave in the world
Olympic National Park - contains the largest wilderness area in the 48 contiguous states, plus the longest stretch of wilderness ocean beaches at 62 miles
Palouse (Whitman County) - produces more wheat than any other county in the United States, averaging nearly 3 times the national yield per acre
Port of Everett - the second largest marina on the West Coast
Queets Rain Forest (Olympic National Park) - hike the Queets River Trail to see the largest Douglas-fir in the world at 202' (220' before its top broke off) and 45.5' in circumference; Quinault Rain Forest - the world's largest yellow cedar is growing along the Skyline Ridge Trail out of North Fork Campground (see our link to the Olympic National Park "On-line Tours" page - Forest Trail Maps - in our National Parks area of "Outdoor Fun")
Roosevelt Elk (Olympic National Park) - a species indigenous to the Northwest; threatened to near extinction by hunting, their protection was one of the primary reasons for creating the park; geographically isolated, the park also provides habitat to a number of other animals and plants unique to the area, including the Olympic marmot, chipmunk and snow mole, the Flett's violet, Piper's bellflower and Olympic Mountain daisy, and the Beardslee and Crescenti trout
Sequim (North Olympic Peninsula) - lying in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains and located only 40 miles from Mount Olympus, the wettest spot in the continental United States, this area is the driest coastal region north of Southern California with an annual rainfall average of less than 14 inches
Skagit Valley (Western Washington) - one of largest bulb-growing regions in the world
State Capitol (Legislative Building, Olympia ) - fourth highest free-standing dome in the world at 278' (St. Peters in Rome, Sancta Sophia in Istanbul, and the National Capitol in Washington DC are higher)
Tacoma Dome (Pierce County) - world's largest wood domed structure at 150' high and 530' in diameter; seats 21,000
Totem Pole ( Kalama in Southeastern Washington) - carved by Chief Lalooska, this is the tallest single tree totem in the world at 140'
Whidbey Island - the longest offshore island in the continental United States as of 1992 when the United States Congress declared Long Island, which is longer, not actually an island, but a peninsula