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History of Burbank Washington
Burbank is part of Walla Walla County so it is only logical that much of its history is tied to it, Walla Walla being the 26th county of Washington’s 39 counties. This part of Washington land has been referred to as the seat of Pacific Northwest history and is one of the earliest areas sandwiched by the Rocky Mountains and the Cascades that non-Indians settled in.
Two of the more remarkable events to have marked Walla Walla county are the 1847 Whitman Massacre and the 1855 Treaty Council.
The early era of Walla Walla witnessed the occupation of at least three known tribes – the Cayuse, Walla Walla and Umatilla peoples. They lived in lodges that were 60 feet in length and shared by 10 related families. Horses were very much a part of early life because the animals were bred for purposes of trade with trappers and other early settlers. Canada’s North West Fur Company and American-owned Pacific Fur Company arrived in Walla Walla, and eventually joined by England’s Hudson Bay Company. Fur, therefore, helped shaped much of Walla Walla’s early days.
Walla Walla also welcomed missionaries who established their respective missions. News of these missions served as magnets for an increasing number of pioneers to make their way to Walla Walla. As to be expected in most annals of history, there were skirmishes in the area giving rise to the famous Whitman Massacre which signified solid resistance to change by an established group, the Cayuse.
When Walla Walla county was first formed, historians say that it was an enormous territory consisting of half of Washington state, the entire area of Idaho, and about one fourth of Montana.
More fighting between tribes and the government ensued, although there were visible signs of progress. Amidst the historical events that shaped Walla Walla’s history, the first school was set up in 1866, a seminary was built, and in 1913, the first private college welcoming undergraduates was born. There was the railroad, the state penitentiary and numerous dams.
While Walla Walla county has incorporated cities, Burbank falls under the category of unincorporated towns, or in modern lingo, is referred to as a census-designated city (CDC).
Will H. Parry is one of Burbank’s most eminent figures having started an irrigation company. He named it the Burbank Power and Water Company. The growth of Burbank was fueled by the regular crossings of the Northern Pacific Railroad.
Building and Progress
Burbank’s irrigation project breathed the first signs of life in May 1950. After the McNary Dam was built, new homes sprouted across Burbank and its first fire department was created in 1953. Another residential district sprung up – Burbank Heights – thanks to the US Army of Engineers who were recruited from the Frank Hood farm. A grain terminal followed. What happened next in Burbank’s history is a beautiful story marked by sustained growth, urban success and a robust sense of pride on the part of its inhabitants.
The Burbank Slough Interpretive Trail is a tribute to the area’s magnificent transformation of wildlife and natural habitats; migratory waterfowl can be spotted from the McNary Wildlife Refuge, a site spanning 3,600 acres, and is home to certain species, most notably mallard, northern shoveler, Canada geese and canvasback, to name a few. According to Beth Gibson’s history of Burbank, about 212 species have been identified in the refuge since 1955.
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