West Richland looking for its roots

WEST RICHLAND -- West Richland is searching for its roots in history.

Fortunately, its roots aren't very deep: the city only incorporated on June 17, 1955.

But it was built on the bones of two other small towns that gave up their names, but not quite their place in history.

"City officials have been talking about doing a history of West Richland off and on for a long time but decided to make it a project in August," Ann Steiger said. She works in the city's economic development department and is the contact person for anyone with photos, memorabilia or information on the origins of West Richland.

"The irrigation canal running along Van Giesen was the demarcation between the two (original towns). Enterprise lay to the south of the canal," Steiger said.

And to the north was Hemminger, named for a local family.

"We're not even sure of the spelling of the other town. Our research is just in its infancy," she said.

The residents of the towns voted to incorporate and name their new town West Richland.

One of the few bits of history already uncovered involves the post office.

Steiger has a color copy of one side of a post card, the side with two postmarks, the old-fashioned round style.

"One, the Enterprise Rural Station, is dated June 15, 1954. The second, dated June 16, 1954, is for the West Richland Rural Station," Steiger said. "They were both unincorporated areas, like Finley, without their own post office or ZIP codes."

West Richland didn't get its own ZIP code, 99353, until 1998.

Steiger is hoping the city's residents and former residents will go through family photo albums, old letters or newspaper clippings and share the town's history.

"Whatever you have, we'll make a copy and return it to you," she said. "I'm curious what we'll find. Was there agriculture here, or were the people living here ranchers? Did they plant orchards?"

"There must be people floating around the Tri-Cities who have the stories," Steiger said. "It's interesting how history brings a community together."

-- Contact Ann Steiger at 509-967-5902 or via email at asteiger@westrichland.org.