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Chelan County, Washington

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chelan County, Washington
Chelan County Courthouse 02.jpg
Chelan County Courthouse
Seal of Chelan County, Washington

Map of Washington highlighting Chelan County

Location in the U.S. state of Washington
Map of the United States highlighting Washington

Washington's location in the U.S.
Founded March 13, 1899
Seat Wenatchee
Largest city Wenatchee
 • Total 2,994 sq mi (7,754 km2)
 • Land 2,921 sq mi (7,565 km2)
 • Water 73 sq mi (189 km2), 2.5%
Population (est.)
 • (2017) 76,533
 • Density 26/sq mi (10/km2)
Congressional district 8th
Time zone Pacific: UTC−8/−7

Chelan County /ʃəˈlæn/ is a county in the U.S. state of Washington. As of the 2010 census, its population was 72,453.[1] The county seat and largest city is Wenatchee.[2] The county was created out of Okanogan and Kittitas Counties on March 13, 1899.[3][4] It derives its name from a Chelan Indian word meaning "deep water," likely a reference to 55-mile (89 km)-long Lake Chelan, which reaches a maximum depth of 1,486 feet (453 m).

Chelan County is part of the Wenatchee, Washington, Metropolitan Statistical Area.

YouTube Encyclopedic

  • 1/5
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  • Experience Chelan County
  • Scenic Tour Over Lake Chelan Washington
  • Lake Chelan Washington
  • WABDR Washington Backcountry Discovery Route - Section 4 - Cashmere to Chelan
  • Diane Moran Chelan County District Court Administrator


Chelan County is a land of great contrasts. This land is abundant in natural beauty. It has been called the American Alps. But perhaps its greatest natural treasure is water. Rainfall and snowmelt carved valley after valley through the land. The rivers in the county and the water of Lake Chelan are all drawn southward, by the unstoppable purpose of mixing their waters with those of the greatest river of the west - - the Columbia. The Columbia River pours more water into the Pacific, than any other river in North or South America. Here in Central Washington, the Columbia divides the mountains on the western shore, from the flood form coolies and sage plains of the east. Moving up river from Chelan County southern boundary near Cabinet Rapids, you soon reach Rock Island Dam. The first dam built on the Columbia River. but before there was a dam, there was Rock Island. The rocks of Rock Island now sit mostly submerged just up river from the dam. In the 1800s, Rock Island, with its narrow, plunging channels and rock-strewn rapids, formed an all but impassable barrier to river shipping. Before modern times, for untold generations, Rock Island was sacred ground. The natives of the Columbia, sought their visions near the great river. Clues to what the seeker saw may be discovered in the basalt carvings of Rock Island. The hundreds of rock drawings or petroglyphs of Rock Island, revealed the life stories of another time. A time when the lines between the natural, and supernatural worlds blurred. To this day, Rock Island is still recognized by the Native Americans of the mid-Columbia, as a special place of great power. Petroglyph stones from Rock Island and the Orondo pictograph, are on display in the Museum of the Columbia at Rocky Reach Dam. It is a short distance from Rock Island to Wenatchee. But it is also a leap in time. From weathered basalt cliffs, to city streets, green parks in river walkways. The Apple capital loop trail, circles 10 miles of Columbia shoreline. It is just one among many parks and recreational opportunities available within Chelan County. Seven miles up river from Wenatchee, is Rocky Reach Dam. Construction on the dam began in 1956. Today, more than seven million people throughout the Northwest, benefit from the energy produced at Chelan County PUD dams. The story of how that power is generated, begins with water. How the basics of hydropower are the same for most facilities that generate with water, and that is, we use the power of the water, harness that that flows through the facility and turns the turbine, and ultimately generates electricity. The difference between hydropower for one thing is, water is our fuel. This project is positioned in the middle the river. All the water flow that comes to this facility, we either generate with it, or at times we might have to spill for fish or flood control. But we often return all that flow, back in the same river channel. And I think that's the beauty of hydro. It's using that renewable resource in a way that doesn't harm it. What we generate at Rocky Reach, serves the average daily requirements of a Seattle size city. It all starts with what we call our head water elevation. So that's where the dam is holding the water back. At Rocky Reach that's about 92 feet ahead, from the difference of the head water to the tail water as we call it. Once the water comes into the intake, it flows across the turbine which really resembles a large propeller. That water goes over the turbine, starts to turn that propeller, that has got a shaft, that is attached to a device called the rotor. We turn that into a magnet, that turns, in this plan, 90 RPMs, within a copper circle, called a stator. So as we're turning that 90 RPMs, that causes electron flow, which we call electricity. Once we create electricity, then there's a flow of electricity that we need to get through the power station, out of the power station, into those major switchyards. But that flow has to continue on, all the way until the electricity does its work. From the major transmission stations here in the switchyard, we have high voltage that we transmit into the local communities. There's several steps along the way, to reduce that voltage down to something that's more user friendly for the end customer. The way we do that, as we transmit to a distribution substation or switchyard. Those are those small fenced in areas you see around your community. So we reduce the voltage down at that station, put that on to the distribution power line. You see those with the wood poles and the wires around the community. We then further get that closer to the home or business, reduce it down to a more usable voltage, and put that into the homes, into the businesses. And that's ultimately the end of the journey for the electricity flow. The whole process of generating electricity is amazingly fast. If we take the time it takes to get the water through the turbines, generate the electricity, take that electricity to our transformers, step that electricity up to a higher voltage, get it to your homes, it's a matter of seconds. From the point of that water generating the power, to where we actually deliver it to the end user, is much, much quicker than the time that I've taken to say this. The reservoir that extends over 40 miles behind Rocky Reach Dam, is named Lake Entiat. Today, Lake Entiat offers peaceful views of the serene Columbia River. A hundred years ago, the steamboat captains who sail these waters, knew the rapids just below the town of Entiat, as one of the most treacherous stretches on the mid-Columbia. The mile-long Entiat rapids resembled a huge braided rope, with three twisted channels knotted together by sand bars. In the best of times, passage was difficult. At anytime, it was extremely dangerous. In May of 1902, the steamer Camano twisted, turned, and sank in the heavy current. The Entiat rapids also claimed the steamship Echo, and then the Pringle went down in 1906. But these mishaps didn't close the river highway. Early every morning a steamer out of Wenatchee would labor up river for the 12 hour run to Brewster, and points in between. The down river journey, only took six hours. In 1914 a new railroad line to the Canadian border, did what the Entiat rapids could not do. It shut down the steamer trade on the Columbia, leaving only the memory of steam whistles to echo over the river. Images and reflections of Columbia River steamboat days, are on exhibit in the museum of the Columbia at Rocky Reach Dam. Chelan Falls is the next town up river from Entiat. It sits on a site long inhabited by man. Chinese miners formed a substantial community near the falls in the eighteen hundreds. For centuries before that, Chelan Indians had a village there. The town is named for the series of falls that tumble through the rocky gorge, of the four mile long Chelan River. The river's steep 400 foot drop, prevented any salmon migration into Lake Chelan. Today, there is a hatchery North of Chelan Falls. It is but one of ten hatcheries located throughout Chelan County. All are working together, to accomplish the goal of preserving and increasing the fish of Chelan County. Chelan County is truly an amazing place. Its got an incredible diversity both of land and water, and of the wildlife species that we have here. When you think about it we have tremendous topography here, where we start in alpine forests and end up in sagebrush towards the Columbia River there. Essentially what ties it all together is the water. It just trickles down from the mountains, and creates these different feeder creeks, and streams, and rivers that create lifelines for not only the fish, but the people that have been living here too. When you consider their life cycle the salmon the end is really the beginning. What I mean by that is when the adults come back and they lay their eggs in the gravel, as you see right here. That begins the cycle of life again. You have two adults that come in and they lay the eggs, fertilize the eggs, then they build a mound of gravel over it, and in a few months, the fish come out of the redds. They're real small, we call them alevins, and then they will, depending on the species, stay in fresh water for a matter of time, then start heading out to the ocean. On their way to the ocean they've got to pass through, the mainstem Columbia with the hydro projects on it. They get to the ocean in through the estuary in past all the predators, and then they spent varying amounts at times in the ocean. If they get past all the people that wanna catch them, they try to go through the ocean, back up the river, and start the cycle again. Hatcheries have played a big role and the salmon and steelhead that are coming back to Chelan County. Because of reduced numbers, we've been trying to increase the numbers of naturally spawning salmon and steelhead in our area with hatcheries. Hatchery programs all function essentially the same way. They collect adult fish that they call the broodstock, they collect the eggs from the fish, and then they are fertilized, brought back into incubation buildings, where the eggs are put in the trays and you run water over them for a matter of months. And then the fish are brought into either bigger ponds closer to where we want them to return, or in cases like this hatchery, they're just released right from the hatchery. Just in Chelan County alone, we have a large hatchery program, Grant PUD has a hatchery program, the US Fish and Wildlife has hatchery programs and the Yakima Nation has hatchery programs. We're all trying to work on different segments of the different populations of salmon and steelhead that are here. The Chelan PUD has been a pioneer, in trying to come up with ways to make the passage at our projects more safe for fish. We negotiated a habitat conservation plan that sets a survival standard, higher than any that have been set before. And I believe it was the first habitat conservation plan for a hydro system in the nation. Environmental stewardship at Chelan PUD is paramount for us. What we've been able to do is reach the survival standard, that allows us to still have good runs of salmon, and still operate our project in a cost effective manner. From salmon in the streams, to skiers on the mountains... From high country glaciers, to the great Columbia... This land is all about water. And if water indeed is the greatest natural resource of Chelan County, then one of the most important tasks its residents can perform, is the sensible, and effective stewardship of that resource. I think what we have entrusted to us is an awesome responsibility. We are the stewards of this resource, we have this Rocky Reach facility positioned in the middle of the Columbia River. We have recreational opportunities for people all around this state, in the northwest, and probably internationally that come to enjoy these wonderful facilities. Look at the benefits that we create with our parks. All that focuses in on our ability to generate electricity. That's our funding source for a lot of those opportunities that we take that very seriously, on how we treat the facility, and how we treat all of the things associated with the Columbia River.



According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,994 square miles (7,750 km2), of which 2,921 square miles (7,570 km2) is land and 73 square miles (190 km2) (2.5%) is water.[5] It is the third-largest county in Washington by area.

Geographic features

Major highways

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201776,533[6]5.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]
1790–1960[8] 1900–1990[9]
1990–2000[10] 2010–2016[1]

2000 census

As of the census[11] of 2000, there were 66,616 people, 25,021 households, and 17,364 families residing in the county. The population density was 23 people per square mile (9/km²). There were 30,407 housing units at an average density of 10 per square mile (4/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 83.63% White, 0.26% Black or African American, 0.99% Native American, 0.68% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 12.19% from other races, and 2.14% from two or more races. 19.26% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 16.9% were of German, 11.2% English, 9.3% United States or American and 7.1% Irish ancestry. 80.9% spoke English and 18.1% Spanish as their first language.

There were 25,021 households out of which 34.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.40% were married couples living together, 8.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.60% were non-families. 25.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.14.

In the county, the population was spread out with 28.00% under the age of 18, 8.30% from 18 to 24, 27.20% from 25 to 44, 22.70% from 45 to 64, and 13.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $37,316, and the median income for a family was $46,293. Males had a median income of $35,065 versus $25,838 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,273. About 8.80% of families and 12.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.00% of those under age 18 and 7.40% of those age 65 or over.

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 72,453 people, 27,827 households, and 18,795 families residing in the county.[12] The population density was 24.8 inhabitants per square mile (9.6/km2). There were 35,465 housing units at an average density of 12.1 per square mile (4.7/km2).[13] The racial makeup of the county was 79.3% white, 1.0% American Indian, 0.8% Asian, 0.3% black or African American, 0.1% Pacific islander, 15.7% from other races, and 2.7% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 25.8% of the population.[12] In terms of ancestry, 17.6% were German, 15.0% were American, 11.3% were English, and 8.3% were Irish.[14]

Of the 27,827 households, 32.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.7% were married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 32.5% were non-families, and 26.3% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.10. The median age was 39.3 years.[12]

The median income for a household in the county was $48,674 and the median income for a family was $57,856. Males had a median income of $41,076 versus $34,261 for females. The per capita income for the county was $24,378. About 8.2% of families and 11.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.8% of those under age 18 and 9.0% of those age 65 or over.[15]


Old barn, Chumstick, Washington
Old barn, Chumstick, Washington


Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Ghost town


Presidential elections results
Presidential elections results[16]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2016 52.6% 18,114 37.9% 13,032 9.6% 3,287
2012 56.6% 18,402 40.4% 13,112 3.0% 974
2008 54.7% 17,605 42.9% 13,781 2.4% 777
2004 62.8% 18,482 35.6% 10,471 1.6% 477
2000 63.9% 16,980 31.7% 8,412 4.5% 1,184
1996 51.8% 12,363 36.0% 8,595 12.2% 2,912
1992 45.7% 10,716 33.5% 7,860 20.9% 4,900
1988 57.8% 11,601 40.8% 8,183 1.4% 281
1984 65.1% 13,667 33.2% 6,978 1.7% 349
1980 56.9% 11,299 32.7% 6,483 10.4% 2,068
1976 56.1% 10,492 40.8% 7,623 3.1% 577
1972 60.1% 10,470 33.8% 5,889 6.1% 1,054
1968 52.8% 9,093 39.4% 6,787 7.8% 1,350
1964 41.6% 7,406 57.8% 10,295 0.7% 121
1960 54.1% 9,854 44.9% 8,177 1.0% 183
1956 57.4% 10,405 41.9% 7,600 0.7% 117
1952 61.7% 11,164 38.0% 6,867 0.3% 53
1948 48.2% 7,392 50.2% 7,702 1.7% 257
1944 51.6% 7,081 47.8% 6,557 0.6% 75
1940 52.5% 8,019 47.0% 7,181 0.5% 73
1936 36.9% 4,975 59.5% 8,030 3.6% 481
1932 40.3% 5,584 52.8% 7,316 6.9% 959
1928 77.1% 7,672 22.5% 2,239 0.4% 43
1924 55.6% 4,543 12.2% 995 32.3% 2,639
1920 58.6% 3,885 23.2% 1,540 18.2% 1,210
1916 47.6% 3,011 43.5% 2,747 8.9% 563
1912 18.8% 970 25.8% 1,331 55.3% 2,849
1908 59.7% 1,639 31.7% 871 8.6% 235
1904 72.2% 1,248 21.5% 372 6.3% 109
1900 49.0% 577 48.6% 573 2.4% 28

See also


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  3. ^ McCormick, Ida Skarson (1999). "Links to Okanogan County, Washington". Archived from the original on 2006-05-05.
  4. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved July 4, 2015.
  5. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved Apr 4, 2018.
  6. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  7. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  8. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  9. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  10. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  11. ^ a b c "DP-1 Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  12. ^ "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  13. ^ "DP02 SELECTED SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS IN THE UNITED STATES – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  14. ^ "DP03 SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  15. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved 2018-04-05.

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 12 August 2018, at 10:53
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