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Prosser

The largest city and seat of Benton County, and a shipping point for cattle and sheep; also dubbed the birthplace of Washington’s wine industry. It was an Indian camp during salmon runs in the river. The first settler, James Kinney, homesteaded in 1880. Several names have been given to the place including Yakima Falls, and later, Prosser Falls. At one time, it was known as Cook’s or Colonel Cook’s Ferry. In 1884, the first post office was named Lone Tree, from Lone Tree Landing on the south side of the river, where a single, old cottonwood tree once stood. On January 26, 1885, a town site plat was filed by Col. William F. and Flora T. Prosser. In the same year, the present name was given by Northern Pacific Railway officials when their line was built, naming the station for the Prossers. The advent of the Northern Pacific, and subsequent development of the power site at Tap-Tap Falls between 1890–94, lent impetus to the town’s growth. A new county courthouse was built in 1926 at a cost of $100,000.

On the bank of the Yakima River, with the Horse Heaven Hills rising behind it toward the south, Prosser is a solidly built little town, with a busy flour mill and dehydrating plant. An annual event is States’ Day, held early in December, originally an occasion for assembling of emigrants from eastern parts of the United States.

Today this is known as the Family Christmas Festival and includes the annual lighting of the Christmas tree with carolers and holiday music. In the fall, the city hosts the annual Harvest Festival and Great Prosser Balloon Rally, launching hot air balloons at dawn from the Prosser Airport.

Images

Historic view of the NRHP listed Benton County Courthouse in Prosser.

Source: Washington Dept. of Archaeology and Historic Preservation

Ca. 1940 view of downtown Prosser.

Source: Washington State Historical Society

1952 Prosser street scene.

Source: Washington State Historical Society

Ca. 1905 image of an early automobile and people beside an orchard and farmhouse near Prosser.

Photo by Charles Wilder. Source: Washington State Historical Society

1960s view of the former Grant Avenue Bridge in Prosser, spanning the Yakima River. Built in 1911, this bridge has been replaced.

Source: Historic American Engineering Record, Library of Congress

Points of Interest Points of Interest icon

Prosser City Park

In Prosser City Park is a petrified sequoia taken from a hillside south of the city in 1925. Some million years ago, this species of tree, which is found now only in California, also grew over a part of the Northwest.

Prosser Flouring Mill

The Prosser Flouring Mill, beside the Yakima River, is one of the few remaining flour mills in the state operated by waterpower. Started in 1887, the mill was improved in 1890 and has operated continuously ever since. A low dam and a break in the river bed combine to make a small falls, which creates a nine-foot head of water.

US Post Office

This first post office was constructed in 1935. Typical of federal buildings of the time, it is built of red brick in the “Starved Classical” style, with a Neo-Classical entry. The lobby contains an oil on canvas mural entitled “Mail Train in the 80’s,” completed by Ernest Norling in 1937. The mural depicts the activity on the Northern Pacific’s depot platform

Benton County Courthouse

The Benton County Courthouse, constructed in 1926, is a three-story, brick and terra cotta building in the neo-classical revival style. It was the first permanent courthouse facility built in Benton County. Its construction lent political stability to the county, which had seen conflict over the location of the county seat between Prosser, Benton City and Kennewick. The courthouse represents the area’s first example of monumental public architecture with deliberate “high-style” design features.