Kittitas County

Kittitas County is located in the central part of Washington State and has a population of about 40,000 residents. Nearly half of the county's population lives in the county seat of Ellensburg. Other cities in the county are Cle Elum, Easton, Kittitas, Ronald, Roslyn, Snoqualmie Pass, South Cle Elum, Thorp, and Vantage, all of which are on or near Interstate–90. Interstate–90 traverses the county in an east–west direction. The county's western border is at Snoqualmie Pass and its eastern border is at the Columbia River, some eighty miles to the east.

Kittitas Valley

The western part of the county lies in the Cascade Mountains and is forested. Its highest peak is Mount Daniel, at 7,959 feet and its lowest point is the Columbia River in the dry southeastern part of the county, which has an elevation of about 600 feet. The county has three large lakes, Cle Elum, Kachess, and Keechelus. All three lakes are damned for flood control. The Cle Elum River's headwaters are from Lake Cle Elum. It flows into the Yakima River, which is the outflow for Lake Keechelus. The eastern portion of the county is much drier with grassland and sage brush.

Stuart Range near Cle Elum

Kittitas County was originally part of Yakima County. It was partitioned and officially separated in 1884. Its name comes from the Native Americans that lived in the area in the 19th Century, whom were known as the Kittitas or Upper Yakima Indians. The tribes hunted, fished, dug the Camas root and ate wild berries as food. The western settlers moved the tribes back onto the Yakima Nation Indian Reservation.

Roslyn Washington

Cattle ranching, logging, farming, railroad and mining were all early industries in the county. In the early 1880s, coal and other minerals were discovered in the Cle Elum River Valley and surrounding mountains. By 1886, the Northern Pacific Company built a railroad line between Cle Elum and Roslyn and coal shipments were expedited. Coal production peaked in the 1920s but then waned in the 1930s due to competition from oil. Gold, silver, copper, chromium, lead, iron, mercury, manganese, molybdenum, nickel and antimony were also mined in the area during this time.

Today the county's largest employers are Central Washington University, the county, Ellensburg School District, the city of Ellensburg, and Kittitas Valley Community Hospital.