Our history – bit by official bit

June 10th, 2016 by Ken

There’s a lot to be said for living in Washington State.   We are really a unique product of the American system – – the creation of states.   We are the only state named for an American president.   We were originally planned to be called – Columbia – but Congress liked honoring the first president – – and we were it.  Our state seal is a picture of old George himself.

But – we have a number of state symbols, mottoes and seals that reflect our values and our uniqueness.

Our state motto is – Alki – an Indian word meaning – Bye and Bye.   It seems to be an appropriate word for the laid back style many of us have.   We don’t want to move too quickly.  We want to think about it for a while.   But, eventually, we’ll get back to it.   Alki – Bye and Bye.

Our state nickname – The Evergreen State was adopted by the state legislature just a few short years after statehood.

Our state tree, in keeping with the evergreen theme, is the Western Hemlock.   Why isn’t it the Douglas Fir – you might ask.   After all, we have more Doug fir than any other state.

Well – it seems that Oregon beat us to the draw – and adopted the tree as their state tree, decades before we became a state.   Several Oregon newspapers chided us for not having a state tree and in 1946 the Portland Oregonian selected the Western Hemlock as our state tree.  Bear in mind, that at that time the Hemlock was a scrub tree that nobody wanted and had no commercial value.  But, the name stuck.

Having a Portland newspaper pick out our state tree isn’t any sillier than having school children pick our our state bird.   In 1929 the legislature asked the kids to name the state bird – – and they chose the Meadowlark.   But seven states already had the Meadowlark as the state bird.   The Washington Federation of Garden Clubs suggest the Gold Finch and that name stuck.

A few years before statehood, the women of Washington Territory had the opportunity to vote for the soon to be state flower.   Voting booths were set up all around the territory and only women could vote.   It came down to a close vote for Clover and the Rhododendron.  Of course – the Rhody won.

We have a number of official state items.   The state fruit is the apple.  The state song is “Washington My Home.”   The state folk song is “Roll On Columbia” and the unofficial state rock and roll song is “Louie Louie.”

Not having been blessed with a long history, Washington has come into its own recently.  The legislature has adopted Petrified Wood as the state rock – the square dance as the state dance – the Steelhead as the state fish – the Green Darter Dragonfly   as the state insect – and the Columbian Mamouth as the state fossil.   All of this goes a long way towards developing a sense of state community.

But, all’s not roses and iced tea.   There have been some political problems.   Not to long ago some school children wanted to make the Walla Walla Sweet Onion as the official state vegetable.   That didn’t sit so well with the State Potato Commission and the idea was scrapped.

Guess we still have some surprises left. We don’t as yet have a state drink.   How about beer.  Of course the wine commission would probably object to that.

Posted in History, Informational, The Real News

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