Of the three cities in the Tri-Cities region, incorporated first was Pasco in 1891. Second, was Kennewick in 1904 and last to be incorporated was Richland in 1910. Richland, however, was split when after Hanford came onto the scene, disgruntled residents separated from the town and formed West Richland, which incorporated in 1955.
In the early years of incorporation, Pasco was the largest of the Tri Cities. This was mostly due to the railroad station being located in the city and Pasco also had the majority of the land with easy irrigation to it. During the early years, agriculture was everything and as a result, there were many Hispanics that came to Pasco every year to harvest apples. This also gave the cities a surge in their population and employment. While this still happens in the Tri-Cities today, the result of the increased population is much less noticeable. As many that came during Harvest time were of Hispanic descent, more than half of Pasco is Hispanic today.
Impact of Hanford
When Hanford came into the area in the 1940’s, Richland soon became the largest in population. History has it that workers from all over the area came to work and Hanford became the largest employer in the area. The Tri-Cities soon found that Hanford helped them to survive and the community responded in many ways, including the Richland High School “Bombers” mascot, complete with its mushroom cloud. An additional high school (Hanford High School) was built in 1970 due to the increased population, however, Hanford did not come to the area without causing problems. Problems arose whenever the government decided to cut funding for Hanford. Thousands of people were laid off and out of work. Many left the area in search of other jobs and soon, other employers in the area had to lay-off workers, as well, due to decreased business. In the 1970’s, Kennewick took over the role of having the largest population in the Tri-Cities area and still holds the title today.
Bridge 182 History
In the 1980’s, the Interstate 182 bridge was completed, making Pasco more accessible and in turn, helped the Tri-Cities to grow. While many had feared the Tri-Cities would become ghost towns if Hanford closed its doors, the US Department of Energy helped Hanford to change and work in the containment of waste, rather than the creation of more nuclear weapons.
Since the 1980s, the Tri-Cities have grown immensely as many new businesses have moved into the area and formed a more diversified economy, as well as more diversified population of people.