Adams County Washington

"Entering Adams County" highway sign and map of Wzshiongton State showing Adams County in red.

Located in the eastern part of the state of Washington, Adams County takes its name from President John Adams. Its rich history dates back to the late 1800s. Its fertile soil has made it a hub for wheat, lentils, and other crops. The county has several towns and communities. These include the city of Ritzville, which has a unique history and is a popular tourist destination. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the history of Adams County. We will also explore Ritzville, and some of the tourist attractions, parks, and recreational activities that the county has to offer.

The Formation of Adams County

The Washington Territorial Legislature created Adams County on November 28, 1883, from a portion of Whitman County. The county borders Grant County on its west, Franklin County on its south, Whitman County on its east and Lincoln County on its north. The county has an area of approximately 1,930 square miles. The 2020 US Census counted 20,613 residents for a density of 10 per square mile. The county seat, Ritzville, is the second largest city in the county.

Ritzville–the Adams County Seat

Ritzville has a unique history that dates back to the late 1800s. Founded in 1880 when the Northern Pacific Railroad built a line through the area, the town takes its name from Philip Ritz.  Ritz, a local landowner, donated the land for the town’s first school. The town grew rapidly and became a hub for agriculture, with wheat being the primary crop.

Officially incorporated as a city in 1888, it continued to grow throughout the 1900s. In 1915, a devastating fire destroyed most of the downtown area. The city rebuilt, and many of the buildings constructed during this time still stand today.

Today, Ritzville is a popular tourist destination, known for its unique history, charming downtown area, and outdoor recreation opportunities. The city has several parks, museums, and other attractions that draw visitors from around the world.

The Adams County Courthouse, Ritzville

Other Communities

Adams County has several towns and communities, each with its own unique history and character. In addition to Ritzville, the county seat, some of the other communities in the county include Othello, Lind, and Washtucna.


Named for the Shakespeare play, Othello is a small city located in the southwestern part of the county. The city has a diverse population, including a large Hispanic community. Known for its vibrant arts scene, Othello has several murals and public art installations throughout the downtown area. The Othello Sandhill Crane Festival is a popular annual event that celebrates the migration of sandhill cranes to the area.


In the central part of the county, Lind has a rich agricultural history. Founded in the 1880s, and incorporated in 1902, the town grew into a hub for wheat farming. Today, the town has several historic buildings and museums that showcase its agricultural heritage.  It also hosts the annual combine demolition derby each June.


Washtucna is a small town located in the southeastern corner of the county. The town takes its name from the Washtucna Coulee, which is a geological formation that runs through the area. The town has a museum, parks and outdoor recreation areas.  These include the Washtucna Heritage Museum and Bassett Park, a great place to be a bird watcher;

The Union Elevators seen from U.S. Highway 395, Lind, Washington
Union Elevators, Lind, Washington

The County’s smallest incorporated town, Hatton, lies off U.S. 395, just north of the Franklin County line.  At the turn of the 20th Century, Hatton had a thrriving business community, including two hotels.  The 1910 census counted 161 residents, a number which has fallen in almost every subsequent count.  The 2020 count showed only 79 townsfolk.  On a personal note, I have driven highway 395 more times than I can remember over the past fifty years, and I had no idea the town existed.


Agriculture is the primary industry in Adams County, Washington. The county has a long history of agriculture, and it remains a vital part of the local economy. Adams County is known for its fertile soil and diverse crops, including wheat, corn, potatoes, and hay.

Wheat, the primary crop grown in Adams County, is one of the most significant commodities produced in the area. The county’s wheat production is essential to the state of Washington’s economy, as it is one of the state’s top agricultural products. A significant producer of potatoes, Adams County is known for its high-quality potatoes that are used in chip and french fry production.

Farmland in central Adams County
Adams County Farmland

In addition to agriculture, Adams County also has a thriving food processing industry. Several food processing companies are located in the county, including a potato processing plant and a vegetable processing plant. These companies provide jobs for many local residents and contribute to the county’s economy.

Aside from agriculture and food processing, Adams County also has a growing renewable energy industry. The county is home to several wind farms that generate clean energy for the region. These wind farms have brought new jobs and economic opportunities to the area.

Overall, Adams County’s economy is heavily reliant on agriculture.  Tthe county has also diversified its economy with a growing food processing industry and renewable energy industry. The county’s fertile soil and diverse crops make it a significant contributor to Washington State’s agricultural industry, and it will likely continue to play an essential role in the state’s economy in the future.

Tourist Attractions in or near Adams County

Adams County has several tourist attractions worth visiting. One of the most popular attractions is the Ritzville Railroad Depot Museum, located in the heart of downtown Ritzville. The museum showcases the history of the railroad in the area and features exhibits on the town’s history and culture.

Another popular attraction is the Palouse Falls State Park, located on the Palouse River just south of Washtucna. The park, known for its scenic beauty, features views of the 198-foot waterfall and the surrounding canyon. Visitors can also hike, fish, and camp in the park.

Palouse Falls

The Sprague Lake Resort is another popular destination just east of Adams County. The resort is located on the shores of Sprague Lake and offers fishing, boating, and other recreational activities. The resort also has cabins and campsites for visitors who want to spend the night.


Adams County, Washington, is a place of rich history and natural beauty. The county’s main industry is agriculture, and it is known for its fertile soil and diverse crops. The town of Ritzville has a unique history and is a popular tourist destination, with several museums and attractions that showcase the town’s heritage. The county also has several parks and recreational areas that offer visitors a chance to enjoy the area’s natural beauty and outdoor activities. Whether you’re interested in history, agriculture, or outdoor recreation, Adams County has something for everyone.  And to read more about Washington State and its thirty-nine counties, visit my blog page Evergreen.