About this project

Downtown Yakima, looking west from Third Street, is shown in this 1912 photograph.

Every year, the Yakima Herald-Republic publishes an Annual edition focused on a particular theme or topic. The suggestion that this year we commemorate Yakima’s 125th founding as a city seemed intriguing — who doesn’t love history? — but also overwhelming.

Local historian Yvonne Wilbur and John Baule, director of the Yakima Valley Museum, convinced us to focus on the city’s early years. For good reason.

Ours is a story rich in detail and personality. While Yakima’s four-mile move up the road from Union Gap is widely known, many of the individuals and families we tell about here are not. In 1885, there were cattlemen, wealthy investors and a powerful railroad company bent on carving out a community that would have room to grow.

Yakima — The Beginning recounts how the city was established and spotlights some of the people — such as A.J. Splawn, Elizabeth Loudon Carmichael and the Ditter family  — who laid the groundwork for a prosperous and a remarkably optimistic community.

Yakima’s growth sowed the beginning for other communities across the Valley, such as Zillah and Sunnyside.
The stories are told by several Herald-Republic staff reporters: Adriana Janovich, Phil Ferolito, David Lester, Pat Muir, Ross Courtney, Erin Snelgrove, Jane Gargas and Leah Beth Ward. Colleen Fontana and Jasmine Okbinoglu — two members of the Herald-Republic’s Unleashed program for high school students — also contributed.

City Editor Craig Troianello writes about the texture of our community during the first 25 years and how the pure pluck and initiative of early settlers laid the seeds for the city we know today.

This project would not have been possible without Herald-Republic librarian Donean Brown, chief photographer Gordon King, news producer and graphic artist T.J. Mullinax, News Editor Jeff Garretson and graphics artist Sarah Button.

Our thanks, too, to Greg Stewart at State Fair Park and descendants of Patrick and Nellie Mullins, who provided us with additional photos and historical information.

A number of historical photos depicting life in early Yakima have not been seen in other publications.

Given the limitations of time and space, other stories about local families and institutions could not be included. By no means did we set out to provide a complete story of Yakima’s beginning. But we hope there is enough here to make you want to learn more about our local history.

— Barbara Serrano,managing editor