LOCAL NEWS

All over the map: How Washington got the name ‘Evergreen State’

Mar 22, 2019, 8:43 AM | Updated: 9:50 am
evergreen state...
(Feliks Banel, KIRO Radio)
(Feliks Banel, KIRO Radio)

Washington became the 42nd state in the Union in November 1889, and it was just a few months later that young man named Charles Tallmadge Conover — just 27 years old at the time — had a brainstorm.

C.T. Conover was a former newspaperman who had gone into real estate. To drum up business from out of town, he and his business partner Samuel L. Crawford commissioned a booklet extolling the virtues of this verdant, lush, and forested wonderland.

Early Seattle historian Frederic Grant wrote the copy for the booklet, but Conover came up with the title: “Washington, The Evergreen State and Seattle, Its Metropolis.”

RELATED: Searching for Washington’s mystery photographer
RELATED: Idea for Seattle came from Eastern Oregon man
RELATED: Portland men created Seattle’s first housing boom

This booklet didn’t advertise specific properties for sale. It was more of a general promotional piece. Today, it wouldn’t be called an infomercial, exactly – this would probably be considered “branded content.”

The real estate firm of Crawford & Conover spent something like $30,000 (or more than $800,000 in 2019 figures) to print 50,000 copies and distribute them around the country.

Courtesy

It’s unclear if the booklet helped sell any property, but regardless, the “Evergreen State” nickname caught on with Governor Elisha P. Ferry and then Governor John Harte McGraw. “The Evergreen State” started appearing on materials produced by chambers of commerce and tourism bureaus all over Washington, and it figured prominently in Washington’s significant promotional efforts at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.

Even before the fair, Conover had had “Evergreen State” ribbons and buttons made up for the 1892 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. Future historian Edmond Meany took a pile of this swag to hand out to delegates, and Conover later claimed that one of the items was named the “most handsome and striking badge” at the convention. However, even the presence of this handsome Evergreen swag couldn’t help Republican President Benjamin Harrison, who that autumn lost his bid for a second term to Democrat Grover Cleveland.

And there’s at least one odd legislative footnote to all of this. The “Evergreen State” nickname was never legally adopted by the state. Some sources say that the Washington State House did officially approve it in 1893, but this couldn’t be confirmed. And, as recently as 2009, Republican State Senator Jim Honeyford of Sunnyside introduced a bill in the Washington State Senate to make “The Evergreen State” truly Washington’s official nickname, but the bill did not pass.

Senator Honeyford was consulted earlier this week to find out exactly why that 2009 bill didn’t go anywhere. He told a reporter that not only could he not remember why it hadn’t passed, but, in fact, he also couldn’t remember introducing it. Both the senator, who’s a good sport, and the reporter had a good chuckle.

The man behind all of this, C.T. Conover, who wrote a newspaper column about local history for The Seattle Times titled “Just Cogitating” for the last 15 years of his life, died in August 1961 just two days shy of his 99th birthday. He’s buried among the other Washington pioneers in Seattle’s Lake View Cemetery, surrounded by some of that lush landscape that his wordsmithing celebrated so long ago.

Local News

SDOT Light Rail Ped...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Pedestrian struck, injured by Link light rail train in south Seattle

A pedestrian was struck and injured by a Link light rail train Wednesday afternoon in south Seattle.
1 day ago
(Photo courtesy of King County)...
Frank Sumrall

King County executive initiates plan to conserve and save the region’s wilderness

King County executive announced a plan to protect 65,000 acres of forests, farmland, and greenspace, raising property taxes in the process.
1 day ago
drought...
MyNorthwest Staff

Drought may impact most of Pacific Northwest this summer

Drought is expected to impact much of the Pacific Northwest this summer, impacting areas throughout eastern Washington, southern Oregon and southern Idaho.
1 day ago
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)...
Frank Sumrall

SPD report discovers 80% of 911 calls were for non-criminal events

After reviewing more than 1.2 million 911 calls from 2017 to 2019, the Seattle Police Department (SPD) found 79.7% of calls were for non-criminal events.
1 day ago
...
KIRO 7 News Staff

9-year-old boy shot by younger brother in Federal Way

A 9-year-old boy was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center after being shot by his younger brother in Federal Way.
1 day ago
The US government will fly in baby formula on commercial planes contracted by the military in an ai...
Heather Bosch

A guide to locate baby formula from Washington’s Department of Health

Washington's Department of Health has put together a list of resources to help find nutritious food to feed your newborn.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
All over the map: How Washington got the name ‘Evergreen State’