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The Mid-Columbia: From A to Z

The Mid-Columbia is a wide and varied region. Eight counties, plenty of agriculture, 9,000-year-old bones, a rich part of America's atomic age and wonderful rivers. Getting used to the Tri-Cities and its surroundings can take some getting used to, however. So we've created this guide. It's a living document that we will continue to update. If you find a term that's missing, fill out the form at the bottom of this page.

The Ams: The Tri-City Americans is an original franchise of the Western Hockey League. It began in 1966 as the Calgary (Alberta) Buffaloes, were renamed the Centennials after one season, as the Billings Bighorns from 1977-82, then moved to New Westminster, British Columbia before then-owner Ron Dixon moved the club to Kennewick in 1988. Several Ams have been selected in the first round of the National Hockey League draft, including Scott Gomez, who went on to help the New Jersey Devils win the Stanley Cup.

Badger Mountain: About 1,000 people a week hike this hill (elevation 1,579 feet) in south Richland to get a spectacular view of the Tri-Cities and beyond.

Bechtel: Warren A. Bechtel created Bechtel Corporation, the largest engineering company in the United States.

Benton City: Founded in 1909, it wasn’t officially incorporated until July 2, 1945. It is located in Eastern Washington and has a population of about 2,800.

The Benton-Franklin County Fair: It is the area’s largest annual event, averaging about 100,000 visitors each year. Events include a rodeo, carnival, parade, and concerts.

The Blue Bridge: Pioneer Memorial Bridge was created in 1954 and is a four-lane arch-truss bridge connecting Pasco to Kennewick. The bridge was painted green, then blue. It allows Highway 395 to span the Columbia River.

The Bluffs: The White Bluffs was an agricultural town in Benton County. It was evacuated in 1943 by the U.S. government to make room for the nuclear production facility known as the Hanford Site, part of the Manhattan Project that helped end World War II.

Bombers: In 1945, employees at Hanford donated a day’s pay to raise money for a military airplane to contribute to the war effort. Students at Columbia High School in Richland (now known as Richland High School) decided to change the school mascot to the military bomber. In 1988, students voted to make the bomb (with the mushroom cloud logo) a second official mascot of RHS.

B Reactor: Started in 1944, the B-Reactor is the world’s first industrial-scale nuclear reactor, producing plutonium for bombs. It was shutdown in Feb. 1968. It received designation as a National Historic Landmark on Aug. 19, 2008.

The Bypass: Also known as Highway 240, it allows commuters to reach the Hanford Area without traveling through downtown Richland on George Washington Way.

The Cable Bridge: Formerly known as the Ed Hendler Memorial Bridge (named after a former mayor of Pasco), it is one of the most identifiable landmarks in Eastern Washington. It spans the Columbia River connecting east Kennewick and downtown Pasco.

Chiawana High School: A new high school in Pasco, Wash. The mascot is a river hawk.

CH2M Hill: Founded in 1946, this engineering firm is named after its founders — Fred Merryfield, Holly Cornell, Jim Howland and T. Burke Hayes — with Howland and Hayes making up the H2 portion.

Columbia Center Mall: This shopping center opened October 1968 not far from the Columbia River in northwestern Kennewick. Owned by Simon Property Group, it is the largest mall in southeastern Washington.

Columbia Park: 400 acres located between Highway 240 and the Columbia River, which features 4.5 miles of shoreline.

Columbia River: Named after the Columbia Rediviva, the first ship from the Western world known to have traveled up the river near Astoria, Ore. The river is 1,243 miles long, with its headwaters in Canada.

ConAgra: Founded in 1919, the company began producing flour in 1940 and ventured into the livestock feed business in 1942. It acquired with potato producer LambWeston in 1988.

Cool Desert Nights: The Mid-Columbia's largest car show is held each year during the last week of June in Richland.

D.O.E.: The 1973 energy crisis led President Jimmy Carter to create the Department of Energy. The department began operations on Oct. 1, 1977.

Dust Devils: The Tri-City Dust Devils are a minor-league baseball team in Pasco. The franchise was created in 2001 and is a member of the Northwest Baseball League. The Dust Devils have an agreement to serve as a Class A affiliate of Major League Baseball's Colorado Rockies.

Edgar Brown : Edgar Brown Memorial Stadium is the home stadium for the Pasco High School Bulldogs of Pasco, Wash. Opened in 1964, it is at 1611 W. Sylvester St., Pasco. It is a former gravel pit.

Energy Northwest: It was first organized in 1957 as the Washington Public Power Supply System to build nuclear power plants throughout the state. The Hanford Generating Plant began operation in the 1960's, using steam from the Department of Energy's N reactor.

Enterprise: Enterprise Middle School opened in West Richland in 2005 in response to the closure of Hanford Middle School.

The Fever: Tri-Cities Fever is a professional indoor football team created in 2005 as an expansion member of the National Indoor Football League. The Fever won the NIFL title in that first season. The franchise left the NIFL after the 2006 season for the Arena Football League's feeder organization called af2. The Fever games are played at Toyota Center.

The Fingernail: It is a soundstage in Richland's Howard Amon Park, and the structure resembles a fingernail shape. It was salvaged from a rock quarry in the 1970s and moved to the park.

First Night: A family-oriented New Years’ celebration that spans 12 years. Each of the Tri-Cities has taken turns playing host to the event.

Flash Cube Building: A four-story building resembling a “flash cube” that houses various companies.

Fran Rish: Fran Rish Stadium was named after Fran Rish, a football and baseball coach of Richland High School. The football/track stadium is adjacent to Richland High School.

Gesa Stadium: A baseball-only stadium in Pasco. Opened in 1995 as Tri-City Stadium for the Western Baseball League team named the Tri-City Posse. It was renamed Dust Devils Stadium in 2004. On Feb. 13, 2008, Gesa Credit Union, a local financial institution, purchased the naming rights.

Grain Elevator: A historic grain elevator remains on Clearwater Avenue in Kennewick. It has not been in use for several years and development has proceeded around it. It is now serving as a cell phone tower.

Hanford Area: At 586 square miles, it is roughly the equivalent to half the total area of Rhode Island. Most of the Hanford Area is uninhabited and is closed to the public because of the site's nuclear legacy and cleanup work.

Hanford Hanford was a city on the west bank of the Columbia River until the federal government moved its residents to make way for the Manhattan Project in 1943.

Hanford High School: A Richland K-12 school, built in 1972. The elementary school was closed in the mid-1980’s and the middle school closed in 2005.

Horse Heaven Hills: A range of rolling hills in Klickitat and Benton counties on the Washington side of the Columbia River. It was officially named in 1881. James Kinney, a Yakima pioneer, unofficially named the hills in 1857, exclaiming “This is surely a horse heaven!”

Hydros: The American Boat Racing Association (ABRA) unlimited hydroplane racing season runs from late June through September, consisting of six races and 12 to 15 teams.

IT Day: IT Day Convention is the largest Information Technology convention in Eastern Washington. It features vendors from the computer industry, health technology, education technology, and more. It is held in the Tri-Cities due to its foundations in science and technology (e.g. Hanford Nuclear Reservation, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Washington State University, and Lockheed Martin). The event is open and free to the public.

Jump Off Joe: A 2200 foot tall mountain south of Kennewick. The name is not a colloquialism, and it is not to be mistaken with the Sea Stack of Newport, OR.

Kamiakin High School: Founded in 1970 at 600 N Arthur Street in Kennewick. It is named for the chief of the Yakama Tribe, who died in 1877.

City of Kennewick: Was first home to the Chemnapum Indians. The name means "Winter Haven," from when the tribe gathered in the mild climate to trade, fish and pasture their horses. The most populous of the three cities collectively referred to as the Tri-Cities. Kennewick is along the south bank of the Columbia River, opposite of Pasco, just south of the confluence of the Columbia and Yakima rivers and upstream from the mouth of the Snake River. The population was estimated to be 65,860 in April 2008. It was incorporated on Feb. 5, 1904.

Kennewick High School: A public school in eastern Kennewick, founded in 1904. Originally named Edwin S. Black Senior High School until 1954. It is located at 500 S. Dayton St.

Kennewick Man: Will Thomas and David Deacy discovered the skeletal remains of a prehistoric man found on the south bank of the Columbia River near Kennewick, Wash., on July 28, 1996 while at the unlimited hydroplane races. The historic and controversial remains are estimated to be 10,000 years old, and they are stored at the Burke Museum on the campus of the University of Washington.

Kiona: An unincorporated community in Benton County. Kiona and Benton City share a school district (commonly called "Ki-Be"). In 1888, the Northern Pacific Railroad built a new station in the western part of Benton County at present-day Kiona. This allowed farmers to easily bring their produce to market.

Lampson Stadium: Named after Neil F. Lampson, a Kennewick High alumni and founder of a company which specializes in large mobile construction cranes. The stadium, originally built in 1965, is used by all three high schools in the Kennewick School District and seats about 7,000. It is also the first local stadium to have artificial turf. The stadium is located on the grounds of Kennewick High School, at 505 South Garfield Street in Kennewick, Washington.

LIGO: Construction of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory began in 1992, and it's operated by Caltech and Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the guidance of Kip Thorne and Ronald Drever (Caltech) and Rainer Weiss (MIT). The focus is to detect gravitational waves.

Lockheed Martin: Formed in 1995, is a large multinational aerospace manufacturer and advanced technology company.

Moore Mansion: It was built in Pasco along the Columbia River in 1908 by James A. Moore. After years of disrepair, it was converted into an upscale restaurant. However, it was nearly destroyed in 2001 by fire, which was ruled to be arson. It has since been reconstructed.

Nuclear: Denoting, possessing, or involving weapons using this energy: a nuclear bomb. The standard pronunciation of the word nuclear rhymes with clear. A variant pronunciation exists, famously used by Presidents Eisenhower and Carter, which pronounces the second part of the word like -ular in circular or particular. This pronunciation is not acceptable in standard English although it is still widely heard.

City of Pasco : Founded in 1891. Named by Virgil Bogue, a construction engineer for the Northern Pacific Railway for Cerro de Pasco, a city in the Peruvian Andes, where he had helped build a railroad. Population was estimated at 50,210 as of April 1, 2007. It is the second-largest of the Tri-Cities.

PNNL: The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory was created in 1965 and based in Richland. It is one of 10 national labs managed by the Department of Energy.

Prosser: A city in the county seat of Benton County, along the Yakima River. Home to Native Americans who lived and fished along the river, Colonel William Farrand Prosser claimed homestead in 1882.

RadCon: A science-fiction and fantasy convention at Pasco’s Red Lion Hotel. It traditionally is held in February during President's Day weekend.

Rattlesnake Mountain: The tallest peak in the Mid-Columbia. It's elevation is 3,527 feet, which is more than Snoqualmie Pass and makes it the tallest treeless mountain in the United States. It forms the western boundary of the Hanford Site. Recorded wind gusts have surpassed 150 mph on the summit.

City of Richland: Founded in 1910, it is the youngest of the Tri-Cities and has the smallest population. In 1904-1905, W.R. Amon and his son, Howard, purchased 2,3000 acres and proposed a town site on the north bank of the Yakima River. As of April 1, 2007, the population is estimated to be 45,070.

Richland High School: Opened in 1910 as Columbia High School. The building was relocated in 1944 to 930 Long Avenue. The name was changed to Richland High School in 1983.

Sacajawea State Park: A 284-acre inland waters, day-use park at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers. It features 9,100 feet of freshwater shoreline.

Sausagefest: This is a large Oktoberfest-like celebration staged by Christ the King Catholic Church during mid-September in Richland. It began in 1977 and features live entertainment, a carnival, various German foods and a beer garden.

Shrub-steppe habitat: A type of low rainfall natural grassland that is vital for endangered pygmy rabbits in the Mid-Columbia.

Slurpee Capital: A Kennewick 7-Eleven store on Clearwater Avenue offers 18 flavors of Slurpees and has a goal to be the world's largest seller of Slurpees by the end of 2009.

The Snake River: The river’s length is 1,040 miles. It flows from its source in Yellowstone National Park and empties into the Columbia River near Pasco, Wash.

Southridge High School: This south Kennewick school opened in 1997. The mascot is a gorilla named Sunny. The school nickname is the Suns.

The Toyota Center : A multi-purpose arena in Kennewick with seating for 5,780. It opened in 1988 as Tri-Cities Coliseum, and it was built by controversial Canadian businessman Ron Dixon. It serves as the home of the Tri-City Americans, a Western Hockey League franchise that Dixon moved from New Westminster, B.C.

The Tri-Cities Coliseum: Opened in 1988. The name changed in 2004 to the Three Rivers Coliseum to match the Three Rivers Convention Center. In October 2005, Toyota paid for naming rights for the next 10 years.

City of West Richland: The city was founded in 1955. Richland residents separated from the town with the emergence of the Hanford Site.

Ye Merrie Greenwood Faire: Also known as the Renaissance Fair, it traditionally is held in mid-to-late June at Richland’s Howard Amon Park. The fair includes Greenwood Gypsie Dancers, musicians and singers.

Three Rivers: The Three Rivers Convention Center is a modern Kennewick convention center. It gets its name from the area's proximity to the Snake River, Yakima River and Columbia River.

Tri-Cities Airport: The airport began as a Navy training field during World War II.

Highway 395: Highway 395 starts with Interstate 82 on the Umatilla Bridge, which crosses the Columbia River, then goes north before splitting from I-82. As Highway 395 splits, the freeway enters Kennewick, where it intersects Highway 240 and crosses the Columbia River on the Blue Bridge. As the bridge ends, Highway 395 enters Pasco and joins Interstate 182 and Highway 12 before exiting north at an interchange with Highway 397.

182: Interstate 182 is a 15.19 mile interstate highway that extends from Interstate 82 west of Richland to Highway 12 east of Pasco.

The Yakima River: Part of the Columbia River in south central and eastern Washington State, named for the indigenous Yakama people. The first western explorers to visit the river were Lewis and Clark on or about October 17, 1805.

Zintel Canyon Dam: Zintel Canyon River in Benton County is used for flood control purposes. The dam is a gravity dam that was completed in 1992 and is owned by Kennewick City Public Works.