Wapato is a unique thriving community with a diverse culture and heritage. Our mission is to maintain and improve the quality of life and to provide superior services and public facilities for the residents and businesses in the city. Our vision is to strive to grow Wapato into the best town it can possibly be for all who currently live and work here but also for future generations to come.
History of Wapato
The name Wapato is of Yakama origin, “Wa pa too”, which is an edible root of great value to native Yakamas and settlers alike. Settlers have been in the area since as early as 1885. In 1903, the Postal Service changed the name of the town from Simcoe to Wapato, because Simcoe was too much like Fort Simcoe. It was August 1908 before the town’s people voted to incorporate their reservation community with JF Douglas as the first Mayor. This fourth class town was landlocked by Yakama Nation property but was progressive enough to have a newspaper, Wapato Independent, and postal and telephone service.
Soon after incorporation, JF Barnes was appointed as the first Town Marshall. Initial accomplishments were a city park and work beginning on streets and irrigation ditches. The early revenue came from the licensing of saloons and the first lending library was started in 1908 by the Wapato Ladies Club. City Hall, police station, jail, and fire protection were 1909 projects. Power came to Wapato in 1910. The 1911 project was a water system.
The first Buddhist temple in Washington was built in Wapato and is still open. The primary industries of Wapato are farming and ranching. These drew many different groups of settlers that have made the town’s population diverse: Japanese, Filipino, Hispanic, and white. Diversity has given Wapato its unique nature, which is celebrated throughout the year at different events. The City is still renowned for its fresh fruit and vegetable stands, and nearby wineries.