Walla Walla

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WALLA WALLA SETTLEMENTS began in July 1818 when the North West Fur Company established an Indian trading post, Fort Nez Perce, later Fort Walla Walla, on the east bank of the Columbia River at its junction with the Walla Walla River. Waiilatpu, the mission of Marcus Whitman, built in October 1843, twenty miles up the river from the post, was the next white settlement. Although Whitman, his family, and twelve other missionary residents were massacred in a Cayuse raid in 1847, a new settlement of French-Canadians and Indians sprang up nearby, known as Whitman, or French Town.

A few white families had settled in the Walla Walla Valley by 1855, at the time of the Indian uprising in eastern Washington, but these families were ordered out by the U.S. Indian agent and Fort Nez Perce was closed. A new Fort Walla Walla, a U.S. military post, was erected in November 1856, about twenty-eight miles up the river (on the site of the present city of Walla Walla).

The Washington territorial legislature created Walla Walla County in 1854. By 1859, with the end of the Yakima Indian Wars, 2,000 white settlers lived in the valley. In 1862 the city of Walla Walla was incorporated, and in the early 1870s a railroad was completed connecting it to the town of Wallula at the mouth of Walla Walla River. These towns prospered during the gold rushes in eastern Oregon and western Idaho, beginning in 1860.


Daugherty, James H. Marcus and Narcissa Whitman: Pioneers of Oregon. New York: Viking Press, 1953.

Jeffrey, Julie Roy. Converting the West: A Biography of Narcissa Whitman. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991.

Miller, Christopher L. Prophetic Worlds: Indians and Whites on the Columbia Plateau. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1985.

R. C.Clark/a. r.

See alsoColumbia River Exploration and Settlement ; Indian Missions ; Indian Trade and Traders ; Indian Treaties ; Oregon Trail ; Washington, State of .

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Walla Walla (wŏl´ə wŏl´ə), city (2006 est. pop. 30,945), seat of Walla Walla co., SE Wash., at the junction of the Walla Walla River and Mill Creek, near the Oreg. line; inc. 1862. It is a trade, processing, and distribution center for a fertile farm and lumber area. Fruits and vegetables (especially green peas and sweet onions) are canned and frozen in plants there, grain is processed for animal feeds, and wine is produced. Manufactures include cans, pesticides, packaging machinery, archery supplies, irrigation equipment, and plumbing fixtures. There is logging and the production of pulp, paper, and wood products. By the early 21st cent. Walla Walla also had a flourishing wine industry, with more than 100 vineyards in and around the city. This and a revitalized downtown area has made it a tourist hub.

The old fur-trading Fort Walla Walla (Fort Nez Perce) was established downstream on the Columbia River at the site of modern-day Wallula in 1818; the mission of Marcus Whitman was built (1836) nearby modern Walla Walla. Wagon trains began bringing settlers in the 1840s, and Steptoeville (later Walla Walla) grew around the U.S. military Fort Walla Walla (est. 1856). The name was changed when the settlement became county seat in 1859. Walla Walla is a district headquarters of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is also the seat of Whitman College, Walla Walla Univ., and the state penitentiary. The Whitman mission nearby has been restored as a national historic site.