History and Highlights of Pasco

Quick Pasco History

Like today, a mild climate and an abundant fish supply ensured that inhabitants thrived along the banks of the Columbia, Yakima, and Snake rivers. Evidence of the earliest known inhabitants in the Western Hemisphere was found in northern Franklin County at the Marmes Rockshelter, near Lyons Ferry and Palouse Falls.

In 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition camped at the confluence of the Columbia and Snake Rivers in an area that 200 years later is called Sacagawea State Park in honor of their Native American guide. Little did they know the surrounding area would be called Pasco, today a bustling, thriving community of 81,280 people.

The Northern Pacific Railroad brought a rush of settlers to the Washington Territory, leading to statehood in 1889. The railroad town of Ainsworth was moved to Pasco in 1886, and the Franklin County seat was brought with it. Pasco was incorporated on September 3, 1891, and was named by Virgil Bogue, an engineer for the railroad, after Cerro de Pasco in Peru.

Pasco grew to be a vital railroad hub in the years before World War II, including in 1926 what is considered the beginning of United Airlines. The war brought the Manhattan Project, the United States’ development of the atomic bomb, to the nearby Hanford Site. Pasco and the rest of the area played an important support role in that effort. Pasco was also home to Naval Air Station Pasco (the current Tri-Cities Airport) and the Pasco Engineer Depot (still called "Big Pasco" today). These wartime activities more than doubled the population in just months.

Post-war, Hanford played an essential role in the area's economy, and it continues through today in the cleanup effort. Additionally, the build-out of irrigation, such as the Columbia Basin Project, made agriculture an even more critical part of the economy of Pasco and Franklin County.

Pasco’s growth is also energized by its location as a transportation hub. In the beginning, the city relied entirely on the river and rail for transportation but has since matured into a genuine hub including surface, air, water, and rail; all modes of moving agricultural goods, dry goods, technology, and other products to near and distant corners of the globe.

Population and Community Recognition

Pasco has experienced rapid residential growth in the 21st century, growing from a 2000 population of 32,066 to a 2023 population estimate of 81,280. This growth has occurred hand-in-hand with increasing quality of life, recognized by several independent groups and surveys:

For more detailed demographic information, visit Benton-Franklin Trends.

Boasting good schools, health care facilities, faith communities, numerous retail/professional opportunities, recreational areas, and predominantly good weather, Pasco is where people put down roots and raise families in a safe, forward-thinking, active environment.

Pasco’s Recreation Features

Pasco is a recreation-minded community! Some of the amenities offered include:

  • 15 miles of pathway overlooking the majestic Columbia River for bikers and hikers
  • 20 soccer fields
  • 24 public tennis courts
  • A 3.1-mile cross-country course dedicated to walkers, joggers, and runners
  • A 50-meter pool
  • Edgar Brown Stadium is a multipurpose outdoor stadium with a state-of-the-art turf field and a 10-lane, all-weather running track capable of hosting state-level football and track events
  • A professional golf course to enjoy nearly year-round play
  • The HAPO Center, with 84,000 square feet of exhibit space
  • GESA Stadium, home of the Tri-City Dust Devils, a Minor League Baseball team affiliated with the Los Angeles Angels
  • Eight softball fields
  • Seven baseball parks


 Pasco is nestled among the Columbia, Yakima, and Snake rivers in southeastern Washington State. Average climate data:

  • Average high temperature: 66 Degrees
  • Average low temperature: 44 Degrees
  • Average rainfall: 6.5 inches per year
  • Average snowfall: 2.75 inches per year
  • Elevation: 407 feet above sea level
  • Growing season: 185 days per year
  • Latitude: 46°16’N
  • Longitude: 119°07’W
  • Sunshine: 300 days per year

More Information

For more information on the many opportunities in Pasco to live, work, and play, visit: