How Well Do You Know Washington State?
If you are a native Washingtonian, or have lived in the Evergreen State for a lengthy period of time (almost a quarter century for me), how well do you know Washington State?
I know there are countless facts and different data sets that could a question like this down a plethora of rabbit holes. Instead of that I'm going to keep this to the official State symbols that have been recognized and affirmed by the Washington State Legislature. We all know the apple is the official state fruit, but how many others do you already know?
The Columbian Mammoth is the officially recognized fossil. A four year effort by elementary school students culminated in the recognition given by lawmakers in 1998. This mammoth roamed North America, and specifically the Pacific Northwest, during the Ice Age. In Kennewick, you can set up tours to look at the Coyote Canyon dig site where mammoth bones have been uncovered.
The coast rhododendron became the official state flower in 1959, but it's status as the flower of Washington State was recognized much earlier. Searching for an entry into the 1893 World's Fair, some women in the state wanted an 'official flower' for the Fair's floral exhibit. Women were asked to vote and choose between the clover and the rhododendron. The rest is history...
The Western Hemlock was designated by the State Legislature in 1947 as the State Tree. Then State Representative George Adams of Mason County pushed for the Hemlock over the Western Red Cedar as he believed the hemlock would become the 'backbone' of the State's forest industry.
The Willow Goldfinch was officially recognized as the State bird in 1951, but it was a long road to get there. The meadowlark was the first state bird in 1928 after legislators let school children decide. The problem was seven states already had the meadow lark. In 1931 the Willow Goldfinch was selected by the Washington federation of Women's Clubs. Now there were two State Birds. The Legislature once again went to the school kids who picked the little yellow bird and lawmakers rubber stamped it.
In 2009 the Olympic Marmot was designated the State Endemic Mammal. The marmot, native to Western Washington, was designated after a proposal from elementary school students. The Orca was given the State Marine Mammal designation in 2005.
The fastest growing sport in America became the official sport of Washington State in 2022. The sport was invented on Bainbridge Island by Joel McFee Pritchard and a pair of friends in 1965. Pritchard would go on to become State Lieutenant Governor as well as representing the State in the U.S. Congress.
There are a pair of State songs officially recognized. "Washington My Home", written by Helen Davis, was adopted in 1959 by lawmakers. Washington also has a State folk song, "Roll on Columbia" written by Woody Guthrie, was officially designated in 1987.
Nope, it isn't the salmon or any relative of the salmon. Believe it or not the Steelhead trout has been the official state fish since 1969. Steelhead are one of the most popular fish for recreational fishermen around the state.