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Union Gap

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 from Union Gap to the new settlement.

Just south of the town there is a spectacular scenic feature that the town is named for, the gap through which the Yakima River flows between two large ridges, along SR 97. The Indian name was Pah-ho-ta-cute.


Ca. 1935 main highway entering Union Gap.

Source: Washington State Archives

Ca. 1945 postcard view looking north through Union Gap, showing highway and railroad tracks. Yakima River at far right.

Source: Washington State Historical Society

Points of Interest Points of Interest icon

Elizabeth Louden Carmichael House

Also known as “Carmichael Castle” is an imposing two-and-one-half story Queen Anne Style residence built of masonry construction. Elizabeth Loudon Carmichael was a pioneer Yakima Valley businesswomen whose commercial acumen led to the development of a leading industry in the region. Elizabeth Carmichael arrived in Yakima County in 1885, established a prosperous mercantile store at Yakima City, served as city postmistress for many years, and in 1902 founded a creamery that was a leading business in Yakima City as well as an important stimulus to the region’s dairy industry. At her death in 1920, Carmichael’s creamery was one of the principal firms in the Yakima Valley.

Alexander McAlister House

A wood-frame Victorian, built between 1893 and 1895 and located on a large cattle ranch on the western edge of Union Gap. Built by Alexander McAllister, a prominent sheep rancher and hops grower from Scotland, this house is the oldest existing and best preserved Victorian house in Union Gap. It was the headquarters for a ranch that once included 10,000 head of sheep, hundreds of acres of hops, a hop kiln, and for a short while a woolen mill. Today, the mill, kiln and other historic farm buildings are gone, but the house remains, evoking the prosperity of the region at the turn of the century.