King County, Washington (population 1,737,034) was established in 1852 and named after William Rufus King, vice president under Franklin Pierce. The Hudson’s Bay Company had established major forts and trading stations in the area during the early 1800s, followed by American fur traders, settlers, and missionaries.
The county is geographically and demographically diverse, including dense urban areas by Puget Sound, affluent suburbs, rural communities, and remote towns in the foothills of the Cascades. Seattle is the county seat.
In 2005, King County sponsored the first annual “Barn Again” tour of historic agricultural properties, which featured such heritage sites as the Dougherty Farm, an 1880s farmstead dating to the heyday of dairy farming in the Snoqualmie Valley; Meadowbrook Farm, once home to the world’s largest hops ranch; and the McNeely Mansion, a grand Victorian home built by area pioneers.
Other sites include the Hjertoos Farm, a Victorian farmhouse built by Norwegian immigrants, with a massive gray timber frame hay and dairy barn; and the Red Brick Road, a farm-to-market road, once a segment of the cross-country Yellowstone Trail.
King County celebrates Archaeology Month every October with exhibits, lecture series, guided tours, training workshops, and other presentations. Other heritage observances include Vashon Island’s Strawberry Festival and the City of Snoqualmie’s Railroad Days. Schoolchildren and others enjoy trips on the Steamer Virginia V, the last remaining wooden hull steamboat operating on the West Coast and a National Historic Landmark vessel.
Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry is the largest private heritage organization in the State of Washington, attracting more than 60,000 visitors annually from the Northwest and beyond.
Designated a Preserve America Community in January 2006.