It is nothing new for locals of Wenatchee, WA, to hear our city described as the “apple capital of the world.” Indeed, it’s what many people think of when they are talking about Washington state and the topic doesn’t revolve around how “Seattle is great, but it rains so much.” Yes, we’ve all had this conversation with family and friends from out of state. And likewise, we hope that you all have corrected many a person each time these tropes about Seattle being “rain city” come up. People need to know that Seattle, while being overcast much of the time, isn’t even in the top ten of major U.S. cities in terms of average annual rainfall. Moreover, we sincerely hope you’ve been educating your family and friends who aren’t familiar with the state of Washington (outside of hearing about fish throwing at Pike’s Place Market) about how there is much more to our beautiful PNW (Pacific Northwest) state. There are plenty of Washington state tourist attractions and activities for locals that don’t involve a trip to the west side.
Today’s post is going to highlight a few of the top Wenatchee activities (outside of going to a Wenatchee Wild hockey game, naturally), in addition to offering our readers a brief history lesson on the early history of Wenatchee. If you are interested in such things, by all means, read on!
The Early History Of Wenatchee
Let’s start with the name, Wenatchee. It is derived from the name of a river, valley, and tribe. The tribe’s name was actually spelled Wenachi in English, and the town was raised between the meeting of the Columbia and Wenatchee Rivers in Chelan County. Wenatchee is also the seat of Chelan County, in case that interests you.
Let’s rewind to the late 1800s. A man who became known as “The Father of Wenatchee” was first known by another name, Judge Thomas Burke. Burke, a resident of Seattle, had his finger in more than a few business-related pies. Notably, the judge had interests in Lake Shore & Eastern Railroad, the Great Northern Railway, and others. Between 1871 and 1890, people began to settle in the area, with Burke acting on behalf of the Wenatchee Development company as he oversaw the development of some 1,400 acres.
But despite the fact that the new settlement had access fresh water and railroads, the climate was arid and the land proved difficult to till. In 1904, a major leap of progress took place with the introduction of a (then) modern irrigation system for the town. This is the means by which the city developed its apple production. Burke, with the help of William Timothy Clark and the Wenatchee Development Company, constructed a 16-mile long Highline Canal, which provided irrigation to 9,000 acres on the narrow shores of the Wenatchee River. The mineral-rich volcanic soil coupled with the harnessing of the river’s fresh water afforded an ideal combination for apple agriculture to take off.
After a few years of growing young apple trees, apples were shipped all over the world. Wenatchee became known as the “valley of the apples”, with many a person and family coming from far and wide to get in on the opportunity. Within 25 years, Wenatchee was known as the “apple capital of the world.”
Apples were the bread-and-butter industry of the area, but it wasn’t the only industry that had a boom at the beginning of the 20th century. Other forms of farming, mineral development, steamboat transportation, shipping, and lumberjacking were all paths toward financial success at the time.
People took note, too. Wenatchee’s population surged between the turn of the century and 1930, going from less than 4,000 folks in 1910 to nearly 12,000 in 1930. With commercial success came societal gains. Libraries, schools, churches, theatres, shops, newspapers, and other institutions became staples of the town.
Around 1940, Wenatchee added another arrow to its quiver, hydroelectric construction and electrical metal refining. Harnessing the power of the Grand Coulee Dam and Rock Island Dam, both of which had been recently completed, new industries took off, which meant new opportunity. For example, the Holden Mining Company at Lake Chelan was the biggest copper mine in the entire state between the 30s and 50s. Likewise, The Aluminum Company of America plant and the Rocky Reach Dam were both able to provide employment for many people looking for work in the area.
Today, Wenatchee, which means “river which comes from canyons” in Sahaptin, has a population around 32,000. And while the city is still known for its apples, there is much more to know about the region than mere fruit. Which leads us to…
Wenatchee Things To Do
Let’s start with the very first thing you should do if you are looking into Wenatchee tourist activities – go to a Wenatchee Wild hockey game. If you are interested in single-game tickets or group tickets, you should know that we have a variety of packages that include a range of incentives, bonuses, and perks. For example, if you are interested in getting a group package together for your co-workers, friends, or family, you can get ticket discounts, group recognition at the game, 10 percent off at the team store, two free tickets per every 15 purchased, and more!
We want to make sure you have an unforgettable experience when you come see the Wenatchee Wild play. And really, all those perks are great, but there is nothing quite like watching hockey live. Whether you’ve been to a pro hockey game in your life before or not, we recommend experiencing the difference between the live game and watching on tv. The speed of the game is what people talk about the most when they experience it for the very first time.
Other Wenatchee Tourist Activities
You can’t spend all day at a hockey game, so let’s look at some of the other top tourist attractions in Wenatchee – things that the locals enjoy, too!
- The Ohme Gardens – The result of over 60 years of fastidious work completed by the Ohme family, the Ohme Gardens are a sight to behold. They’ve taken what was once a vacant, perhaps boring hill, and turned it into one of the most beautiful gardens in the entire state, if not country. On the hill you can see mountains, forests, and a breathtaking view of the river.
- Wenatchee Confluence State Park – This public recreation area is nestled in the bed of the river at the north tip of the city. It’s nearly 200 acres of park, also serving as a nature preserve. You can swim, play horseshoes, fish, run around, camp, and boat at Wenatchee Confluence State Park.
- Stemilt Creek Winery – A fourth-generation farming family, the Mathisons founded a vineyard and winery in 2001. With the aforementioned volcanic soil, altitude, and arid climate, this wine is worth your while. With a tasting room in downtown Wenatchee, you don’t have to leave downtown to try some local flavor.
Come Visit Wenatchee!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief past-and-present look at our wonderful city of Wenatchee. There are plenty of things to do here, year round. The best thing to do right now is ski during the day and then come catch a Wenatchee Wild game that evening! Check out our schedule!