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Swauk Creek to Maryhill

  • Distance: 137 miles
  • Routes: SR 97, SR 821
  • Estimated Driving Time: 2.5 hours

The Yakima Valley, through which US 97, and portions of US 12 and Interstate 82 run, includes the whole rich territory tributary to the Yakima River, reaching from Lake Keechelus and Kachess to the Columbia River. It includes the valleys of the Kittitas, Naches, Ahtanum, Cowiche, Salash, Wenas, Satus, and the Toppenish. The Kittitas, or Upper Yakima Valley, fan-shaped, with an almost imperceptible slope toward the Yakima River, drains three mountain lakes, Keechelus, Kachess, and Cle Elum.

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This is another important placer-mining community, at a point where the highway gradually emerges from the shade of the ravine to the brightness of the open prairie. South of Swauk Prairie, meadows and occasional swampy lands stretch on both sides. The carpet of green is welcome after so many miles of sand, rocks, and sagebrush eastward along the route.     Swauk Creek rises at Blewett Pass on boundary of...

Learn more about Swauk Creek

Mile: 149

A narrow gorge, with massive rock formations that rise to form the opposite canyon walls, while the river foams and dashes in its rough bed several hundred feet below. Impressive views present themselves from time to time as the highway winds past natural vantage points. The east end transitions from the narrow gorge as the highway swings away from the river and cuts through a wide valley given over to...

Learn more about Horse Canyon

Mile: 147

Neatly laid out on the flat floor of Kittitas Valley, Ellensburg is in approximately in the geographic center of the State, and has preserved much of its early Western atmosphere. Stooped prospectors, and leather-jacketed students once mingled with sedate professional men. Originally called “Ellen’s Burgh,” after Ellen Shoudy, wife of John A. Shoudy, one of the original settlers, the town dropped its “h” by order of the Post Office Department....

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Points of Interest
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Shoudy Block

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Kittitas County Historical Museum

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Central Washington University

The landscape transitions from alfalfa fields and orchards to the confines of the Yakima Canyon. The high varicolored walls glisten in the sunlight; lower crevices are veiled in shadow. Splashing along the canyon floor is the Yakima River. Prior to construction of the present highway, the only route through the canyon was by railroad. Rugged natural obstacles delayed for years the completion of both the Northern Pacific Railway and the...

Learn more about Yakima Canyon

Mile: 15

The first name was Pato, by the Northern Pacific Railway. In 1887, it was changed to the present name, for one of the official's daughters. Mrs. Davis noted that it was never more than a flag station. It is important today as the site of the diversion dam of the Roza Irrigation Project, from which waters flow southwest through 90 miles of ditches, canals, flumes, and three tunnels cut in...

Learn more about Roza

Mile: 9

In 1885, the station was named Selah by the Northern Pacific Railway. In 1908, the name was changed to the present one because Wenas station was generally called Selah. The name was suggested by the local Northern Pacific agent, Edmund Stevens, for the patroness of gardens and fruits in Roman mythology. The city has its railroad station on the opposite side of the river. The valley widens out from the...

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Mile: 1

This spot on the river was used as a ford by pioneers. Here in 1853 the party of Henry Longmire, seeking to traverse the valley to Olympia, lost a portion of its wagons and many personal belongings in the turbulent stream. A charter was granted to J. T. Hicklin in 1863 to “operate a ferry across the Yakima at a location somewhere between the mouth of the Wenas River and...

Learn more about Yakima River Ford

Mile: 4

This Native American name, meaning still or smooth water, was given by the Yakima Native American people to about one and a half miles of the Yakima River where it emerges from Kittitas Canyon. Between Ellensburg and Pomona the river is very swift and rough, but on emerging from the Kittitas Canyon into a level valley it flows smoothly for a short distance, then passes over rapids again. Settlers extended...

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Points of Interest
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Pomona Products Company

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Tree Top, Inc.

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Selah Horticultural Union Fruit Warehouse

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Matson Fruit Company

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Pingrey Ford

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Yakima Valley Trolleys

On the Yakima River at the geographic center of the great Yakima Valley, the town owes its growth to the development of the surrounding region, where approximately 500,000 acres of irrigated land historically produced bountiful crops of fruits, vegetables, hops, hay, and alfalfa. Almost ringed by sage-covered hills, the city lies upon level ground except for elevations in some of the suburban areas. Along broad Yakima Avenue is the main...

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Points of Interest
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Masonic Temple

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U.S. Post Office and Courthouse

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A. E. Larson Building

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Old North Yakima Historic District

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Yakima Valley Transportation Company (YVTC)

This city, first settled in the 1860s, fought a losing battle with a great railroad. When, after many delays the Northern Pacific Railroad built through the valley in 1884, Union Gap (then known as Yakima City) refused to make concessions for terminals. The railroad deliberately created a new town four miles to the north, and called it North Yakima; most of the old town of Yakima City contains buildings moved...

Learn more about Union Gap
Points of Interest
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Elizabeth Louden Carmichael House

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Alexander McAlister House

The Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, historically the lands of the Yakama, extended along the Cascade Mountain Range to the Columbia River and beyond. The lands are sheltered from the rains by the Cascade Mountains and extend out into the rolling foothills and along the Yakima River valley. The tribal people comprising the Yakama Nation have lived in this area since the beginning of time. They used...

Learn more about Yakama Nation

Yakama Nation Cultural Center, a unique facility with a museum that exhibits the history and art of the region’s first people—the Yakamas. Inhabitants of the Yakama Reservation are descendants of a coalition formed in the middle of the last century by the original Yakama and 13 other bands. In 1938, the population of the Yakama Indian tribe, the largest in the State, was 2,933, most of whom live on small...

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Mile: 63

For many years it was the headquarters of Yakama Indian Reservation. The surrounding area is extremely fertile. In 1885, the Native American name for this place was given to the railroad station by the Northern Pacific Railway Company. In 1853, Capt. George McClellan mapped the place as Sahpenis. On some old maps the name is spelled Topinish. Toppenish (“people from the foot of the hills”), like Yakima, is divided by...

Learn more about Toppenish
Points of Interest
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Utah-Idaho Sugar Beet Company Plant

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Yakama Indian Agency Building

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US Post Office

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Liberty Theater

The seat of Klickitat County. Brick buildings, new and ancient, front on the well-paved main street. Loggers, farmers, mill-men in pitch-spotted “tin” pants, and cattlemen, some with chaps, spurs, and ten-gallon hats, once strode the streets. Lumber and flour mills, box, sash, and door factories, dairying and diversified farming were the principal industries. The town was named after John J. Golden, who homesteaded here in 1863. Goldendale lies at the...

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Points of Interest
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Klickitat County Courthouse

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Goldendale Free Public Library

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Newell House

Mile: 13

This junction occurs on the north bank of the Columbia River at the intersction between state routes 97 (running north south through Oregon and Washington) and state route 14 (continuing east to the junction with Interstate 82 just north of Umatilla, Oregon). The tour leads along the rocky north side of the Columbia Gorge. The banks of the river on the Oregon side rise steeply, forming terrace on terrace as...

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