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State This and State That

Published by Steve Campion. Category: Politics & Government

It always happens.  You create a state and suddenly everyone wants you to declare an official this and an official that.  Over the years, Washington State has put its legal thumbprint on 21 different state things.  More than half of them were raised to symbol status since the state centennial only 22 years ago, and a third of them came about after an elementary school started a class project or raised a ruckus or championed a cause.  The legislators said “yay.”  Do you think they’d say “nay” to a classroom of eager third graders?  Nay!  I mean, no way.  School kids (or their teachers) are powerful lobbyists, it turns out.

So now we have a state flower, state tree, and state grass.  We have a state bird, a fish, an insect, two mammals, an amphibian, and a fossil.  We have two state songs and a dance that doesn’t go well with either song, and … well, there’s a complete list below.

Ironically, you WON’T find a state nickname on the list.  Washington might be known far and wide as “The Evergreen State” but that’s just out of habit.  It has never been officially accepted into law.  A state tartan has been codified, but not our nickname.  Priorities, right?  Despite valiant efforts we never formally adopted a state motto (Alki) or rock song (“Louie Louie”) either.

Today is Washington’s official state birthday — Nov. 11, 1889 — so WA-List decided to do a roll call of all those things that our legislatures decided to make official state things.

THE OFFICIAL SYMBOLS OF WASHINGTON STATE

State Symbol
Year chosen State Law
(RCW)
Amphibian Pacific Chorus Frog  Pseudacris regilla 2007 1.20.150
Arboretum Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle 1995 1.20.120
Bird Willow Goldfinch  Carduelis tristis 1951 1.20.040
Dance Square Dance 1979 1.20.075
Fish Steelhead Trout  Oncorhynchus mykiss 1969 1.20.045
Flag The state seal on a dark green background 1923 1.20.010
Flower
Coast Rhododendron  Rhododendron macrophyllum 1959 1.20.030
Fossil Columbian Mammoth 1998 1.20.042
Fruit Apple 1989 1.20.035
Gem Petrified Wood 1975 1.20.090
Grass Bluebunch Wheatgrass  Agropyron spicatum 1989 1.20.025
Insect Green Darner Dragonfly  Anax junius 1997 1.20.047
Mammal, Endemic Olympic Marmot  Marmota olympus 2009 1.20.038
Mammal, Marine Orca  Orcinus orca 2005 1.20.037
Oyster Ostrea lurida 2014 * 1.20.180
Seal A seal encircled with the words “The Seal of the State of Washington,” with an image of George Washington as the central figure, and beneath him the date we became a state: 1889.  [That’s the seal pictured here, above right.] 1889 1.20.080
Ship Lady Washington 2007 1.20.160
Song “Washington, My Home” by Helen Davis 1959 1.20.070
Song, Folk “Roll On, Columbia, Roll On” by Woody Guthrie 1987 1.20.073
Tartan Green background with lines of blue, white, red, yellow, and black 1991 1.20.110
Tree
Western hemlock  Tsuga heterophylla 1947 1.20.020
Vegetable Walla Walla Sweet Onion 2007 1.20.140
Waterfall Palouse falls 2014 * 1.20.170

* These entries were added after this page was originally posted.

SOURCE:  Revised Code of Washington (RCW), the Washington Secretary of State, and collected notes.

RELATED LIST: We Need a State Handshake — a Ha! List

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2 Responses to “State This and State That”

  1. Sean Graver Says:

    Awesome list! We got hardly any correct 🙂

  2. Kari Says:

    Heheheee: “A state tartan has been codified, but not our nickname”. Interesting & hilarious list, Steve!