About Adams County

Established in 1883, Adams County spans 1,925 square miles of southeastern Washington. Two-thirds of the county’s population is rural as its low density of 9.4 persons per square mile indicates.
Adams County is best known as one of the state’s agricultural and livestock ranching focused regions. Wheat, corn, apples and potatoes (among several other crops) are grown annually here.
The Palouse tribe was well established as the dominant indigenous tribe. They traveled the county, ranging their horses. The first settlers began arriving in 1869. They found the area suitable to raising cattle, horses and sheep. Others followed, seeking land for ranching and farming.
The first railroad crossed the county in 1881 and by 1897 wheat farming was a successful venture. By 1909, Adams County described itself as the “bread basket of the world.”
James G. Bennett harvested a small wheat crop near Ritzville in 1880. Russian-German settlers (Volga Germans) who arrived in Adams County in 1883 had farmed wheat in Russia and planted it in Adams County. Seeing their success, other settlers also planted wheat. Adams County wheat farmers soon found that the region was so dry that they must let their fields lie fallow every other year to conserve enough moisture in the soil to raise profitable crops.

Today, Adams County is one of the largest wheat producers in the state.
The western portion of the county, known as the ‘panhandle” is far more diverse agriculturally thanks to the presence of canal irrigation. Around Othello, a diverse selection of fruit and vegetable crops are raised.
The result is an epicenter of non-durable goods manufacturing. The highlight of this type of manufacturing consists of French Fry production, which provides the majority of the county’s manufacturing employment.
In 2012, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wage data shows the Adams County labor market provided 7,198 jobs. Almost three-quarters (74.1%) of all local jobs were in five North American Industry Classification System sectors: agriculture, local government, manufacturing, retail trade and health services.

Adams County, the newest member of Foreign Trade Zone #203, is centrally located in Eastern Washington. The county is considered a transportation hub, with Interstate 90 and US 395 intersecting at Ritzville in the northeastern part of the county.
Ritzville, Lind and Hatton are dissected by Burlington Northern Santa Fe’s Class 1 railway, part of its Great Northern Corridor.
Othello, in the southwestern corner of Adams County, is bordered by State Routes 17 and 26. Othello is 22 miles south of Interstate 90, via SR 17 and also connects with U.S. 395 20 miles to the east via SR 26.
The Port of Othello manages the Bruce Industrial Park four miles east of Othello. The port operates the Bruce Water System, which has the ability to deliver 222,000,000 gallons of water to future users.
The Port of Othello currently has available land at Bruce, which is also served by the Columbia Basin Rail Road, which connects with Burlington Northern Santa Fe in Connell.
Served by Avista and Big Bend Electric Co-Op, Adams County enjoys some of the nation’s most economical electricity.

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