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Washington State Trivia

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Last updated 7/22/2021 at 9:33am

A while back I received a phone call that turned out to be a wrong number. The person calling didn’t have access to the phone book in our area, so I looked up the number for them. After I was done, I started flipping through the North Central Washington phone book and found some trivial points of interest I was surprised to see. I found a list of the Washington symbols. Many of them I already knew. For instance, I knew Washington is the only state named after a president. Its flower is the Rhododendron, and the bird is the Goldfinch. The state tree is the Hemlock, (although I keep thinking it’s the Douglas Fir) and we are known as the Evergreen state.

However I learned much about Washington symbols I didn’t know before. Did you know the state song is “Washington My Home?” But we also have a state folk song which is “Roll On, Columbia, Roll On.” Folksinger Woody Guthrie was hired by the BPA to write songs for the movie about the power generated by the Bonneville and Grand Coulee Dams on the Columbia River. He wrote 26 songs in a month, and “Roll On, Columbia, Roll On” was the most popular. The state legislature approved it for the state folk song in 1987. At that time there was also a push to make “Louie, Louie” the folk song, but it was beat out by “Roll On.”

Many of our symbols have been adopted in the last 10 years and I find it a little silly there needs to be a State Symbol for many of the things they selected. For instance the apple is the state fruit and the state vegetable is the Walla Walla sweet onion. Our state dance is the Square Dance, and our insect is the Dragonfly. The marine mammal is the Orca Whale, and the Olympic marmot is the endemic mammal. The state fish is the steelhead Trout, and we even have a state amphibian; the Pacific chorus frog which is the little green frog found in every county in the state.

It surprised me to find that the state gem is petrified wood which I don’t think of as a gem. I’d rather have diamonds or rubies. One symbol unique to Eastern Washington is the state grass; Bluebunch wheatgrass, obviously an important grass in our agricultural industry today.

But I was most surprised by our state motto. Since our state was named after George Washington, can you guess our motto? I would guess “Honesty is the best policy”, or perhaps “If you tell a lie, your nose is going to grow.” Or perhaps, “cherries are as pretty as apples if you don’t cut down the cherry tree.” Well, I jest, but can you guess? Washington State motto is…are you ready for this?...Bye and Bye.

Bye and Bye? Who came up with that motto? What kind of motto is that? It sounds like a motto for the Procrastinator’s Club of America. Or maybe the favorite song of a Church Fellowship Club; you know, “In the Sweet, Bye and Bye.” I was so disappointed when I read that, so I did a little research about the motto. It came from an Indian word “Alki” which means bye and bye. Or perhaps the expanded meaning of the Indian word means “into the future.” The 1850’s version of the term means “I will see you, bye and bye.” After I read that, I felt a little better about the Motto, but I still think there would be a lot of other mottos with more pertinent meaning.

But there you have it. Now you know a little about the symbols of our great state. You never know what kind of things you might find in the phone book.


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