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The Columbia River Gorge
Columbia River Gorge. Photo by Susan Buce

The best places to play and stay in the Columbia River Gorge

Goldendale, WA
County: Klickitat
Incorporated: Nov. 14, 1879
Population: 3,454
Elevation: 1,620 feet
Latitude: 45.82 N
Longitude: 120.81vW
City Hall
1103 S. Columbus
Goldendale, WA 98620
Phone: 509-773-3371

Goldendale, Washington

Goldendale, Washington

The incorporated City of Goldendale is the largest city in Klickitat County, and the location of the county Seat. Goldendale is a central location for farming and industry in the county.

Goldendale is centrally located in Klickitat County at the intersection of Highway 97 and Highway 142, and sits atop a plateu, 13 miles north of the Columbia River. There is a spacious view of Mount Adams and the Simcoe Mountains from nearly every location in the area.

The City of Goldendale is a municipal government responsible for all laws, taxes, municipal mprovements, and social programs for city residents. An elected city council adopts ordinances and establishes guidelines for municipal administration and services. The office containing records is that of the Municipal Clerk-Treasurer.
(Source: Washington State Archives)

The City of Goldendale is also home to one of the largest public telescopes in the United States, at Goldendale Observatory State Park. The major local industries are farming, ranching, timber and recreation. Newspaper of record is the Goldendale Sentinel.

Mount Adams and Goldendale, Washington in Klickitat County

Area and Location

Goldendale is located in south-central Washington, near the Oregon border and the Columbia River gorge. The town has a spectacular view of Mount Adams. Three other mountains of the Cascade Mountain range: Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Rainier, can also be seen from some areas of the town.

Goldendale is a farming community; mostly wheat and alfalfa are grown, but barley and other crops are also produced. Many families are second and third generation farmers. For this reason it is a town rich in history and with strong ties not only to family but also to the land.

The distance from Goldendale to the Washington state capital of Olympia is 132 miles. (as the crow flies). Goldendale is positioned 45.82 degrees north of the equator and 120.81 degrees west of the prime meridian. Nearby communities are: Centerville, Maryhill, Bickleton, Wahkiacus, and Klickitat. Goldendale is within a 40 minute drive of The Dalles, Oregon, one of the larger towns in the Columbia River Gorge scenic area.

Goldendale Washington City Hall

City offices
City Hall, 1103 S Columbus Avenue
Goldendale, Washington 98620
(509) 773-3771
Fax: 773-9171
Website: www.ci.Goldendale.WA.US

Police and Fire Dept.

Police Department
P.O. Box 69
1103 South Columbus
Goldendale, WA 98620
Phone: 509 773-3771

Fire Department
P.O. Box 69
1103 South Columbus
Goldendale, WA 98620
Phone: 509 773-3771

Klickitat County Economic Development
131 W Court St, ms-ch-26
Goldendale, WA, 98620
509 773-7060
Email: Business@co.klickitat.wa.us
WebLink: http://klickitatCounty.org/business/

Goldendale Industrial Park
City of Goldendale
South Columbus, Goldendale, WA, 98620
(509) 773-3771

History of Goldendale

By an act of the Territorial Legislature, Goldendale was incorporated as a city November 14, 1879.
      Goldendale has been a city ten years longer than Washington has been a state. In 1889, with a population of 500,000, the new state of Washington was admitted into the Union. The city of Goldendale was formed on land bought by John J. Golden in 1871 and platted as a townsite in 1872.
     In l878 the county seat was moved from Rockland, now Dallesport, to Goldendale. The following year a wooden building was erected by public donation and served as the first courthouse. Trade and population increased rapidly after the county seat was established, and in 1879 and there were 36 business houses here, including The Sentinel, started January 1, 1879. The stage line from The Dalles reached here in 1877, and was later extended to Yakima and Ellensburg
      The site of the present city of Goldendale was first settled by Mortimer Thorp in the later fifties. Mr. Thorp built a house and fenced in a tract of land close to where the Methodist church now stands. He was a stockman, however, and gave more thought to finding a favorable place for cattle-raising than to the possibilities of his location as a town site. Later he moved to the Yakima valley without ever having acquired title to the land.

After Thorp abandoned the claim, it came into the hands of L. J. Kimberland, who sold out, September 5, 1871, to John J. Golden. It was Mr. Golden's plan when he bought the property to lay it out as a town site and give to the rich Klickitat valley a suitable trade center and supply point. The next spring he sent a request to The Dalles for a surveyor (he was unable to procure one here), and had the town site platted.

The first move on the part of the founder of the new town was toward the establishment of a church within its borders. In the fall of 1871 a large and successful camp-meeting was held, as the result of which a Methodist church was organized in the settlement. Mr. Golden donated to it twelve lots as a building site, and four more were given to the minister. A short time afterward Rev. J.H.B. Royal, with the co-operation of the people of the settlement, built a parsonage. When the new building was completed the subject of naming the town was broached to a party of settlers, and the minister, noticing the numerous willows that grew in the fiat along the bank of the creek, proposed Willowdale, but a suggestion that it be named Goldendale after its founder met with general approval, and the town was named accordingly.

Area Attractions

You'll want to be sure to visit several of the area attractions.

Goldendale Observatory

Goldendale Observatory State Park
1602 Observatory Drive
Goldendale WA 98620
Voice: 509-773-3141
Fax: 509-773-6929
     Goldendale Observatory's website
     Friends of the Goldendale Observatory

The Observatory is unique because it caters to the general public with programs for amateur as well as experienced star gazers. The facility is run by the Washington State Parks Department and provides visitors with the chance to look through the 24.5-inch telescope, one of the largest apertures in the USA available for public use. There is also a secondary dome which houses an eight inch Schmidt-Cassegrain reflecting telescope. The Observatory offers tours and sky-gazing opportunities year-round. Call for hours.

Presby House museum

Presby House Museum
127 W Broadway St
Goldendale, WA 98620
(509) 773-4303

The Klickitat County Historical Society makes their home in this 3-story house. The Presby House was built in 1902, and the Society has filled its 3 floors with furniture, clothing, utensils, and personal effects from the 1880s - 1930s era. The Museum has a small research library containing county records, photographs, cemetery burial lists, and various publications.
Source: Klickitat County Museums and Historical Societies

Maryhill Museum of Art

Maryhill Museum of Art
35 Maryhill Museum Dr, Goldendale, WA
(509) 773-3733

Maryhill was built on the bluffs of the Columbia River by entrepreneur Sam Hill and named for his daughter, Mary. His original purpose was to build the mansion as a home, but his wife refused to live there, as she disliked the isolated location and the dry terrain. Hill had several famous friends, including Queen Marie of Romania, Loie Fuller, a Folies Bergere pioneer of modern dance, and sculptor Auguste Rodin ("The Thinker"). You will find some magnificent displays at Maryhill museum as a result, including the Romanian throne and coronation gown of Queen Marie, video of Loie Fuller and one of the best Rodin collections in the United States. There are several other stunning collections, including a Native American display, Russian icons, and chess sets. You can spend hours wandering through this 3 story building and the grounds on a wind-swept bluff overlooking the scenic Columbia River Gorge.

Stonehenge Replica in Maryhill, Washington

Stonehenge Replica
     Located on the bluffs along the Columbia River Gorge along Highway 97, just off Highway 14, this full-scale concrete Stonehenge Replica is part of the Maryhill Museum of Art complex. It can be seen from the Oregon side of the Columbia River, along 1-84 near the Biggs Junction Bridge. It was built in Maryhill, Washington, by Samuel Hill and originally dedicated July 4, 1918 as a monument to the war dead of World War I and to honor the soldiers of Klickitat County, Washington who were stilly dying in the on-going war. Hill was a Quaker pacifist, and at the time the belief about the original Stonehenge monument in England was that it was an ancient site used for human sacrifice. Hill declared his replica Stonehenge would be a reminder that "humanity is still being sacrificed to the god of war." The dedication plaque reads:

"In memory of the soldiers of Klickitat County who gave their lives in defense of their country. This monument is erected in the hope that others inspired by the example of their valor and their heroism may share in that love of liberty and burn with that fire of patriotism which death can alone quench."

Local Wineries:
Maryhill Winery
9774 Hwy 14
Goldendale, WA 98620
(877) 627-9445

Cascade Cliffs
8866 State Route 14
Wishram, WA 98673
(509) 767-1100

Marshal's Winery
150 Oak Creek Rd
Dallesport, WA 98617
(509) 767-4633

Washington State Parks

The Washington State Parks system includes more than 125 developed parks and covers about a quarter million acres. To make a reservation at more then 60 Washington state parks, contact Washington State Parks from May 15 to Sept. 15. For Information on Washington's State Parks, call 800-233-0321.

Brooks Memorial State Park
2465 Highway 97
Goldendale, WA 98620-2704
(509) 773-4611
     Located 13 miles north of Goldendale, Wash., in the Simcoe Mountains, Brooks Memorial State Park is a 700-acre, year-round park dedicated to an area citizen, Nelson R. Brooks, who gained prominence in the past for his efforts toward providing an excellent road system in the community. The park features camping, fishing, picnicking and playground activities, as well as 9 miles of hiking/biking trails which lead along the Little Klickitat River.

Horsethief Lake at Columbia Hills State Park in Washington

Columbia Hills State Park (Horsethief Lake)
Hwy. 14
between Wishram, Washington and The Dalles, Oregon (at the junction of Hwy 197 and I-84 along the Columbia River)
(509) 767-1159

     Columbia Hills State Park (which includes the Horsethief Lake area and Dalles Mountain Ranch area) is a 3,338-acre camping park with 7,500 feet of freshwater shoreline on the Columbia River. The park features boating, camping, fishing, hiking, picnicking, and is a great location for beginner windsurfers.
     Horsethief Lake is about 90 acres in size and was created from the reservoir formed by the flooding backwaters of Columbia River when The Dalles Dam went into active operation March 1957.
     This area was a Native American village for centuries with the Wisham, Cloud and Lishkam Indians fishing with nets and spears between The Dalles and Celilo Falls. The center of Horsethief Lake is the site of the Wakemap Mound, an archeologically significant location that marks 10,000 years of Native American presence.
    Horsethief Butte dominates the skyline. Horsethief Butte is a popular rock-climbing location.

Outdoor Petroglyph display at Columbia Hills State Park in Washington

     Some of the oldest pictographs (rock paintings) and petroglyphs (rock carvings) in the northwest are found in Columbia Hills State Park, including the famous Tsagaglalal, ("She Who Watches") pictograph. As a step to prevent vandalism, you will need to make a reservation with the Parks Department, who has a small office located at the Park, for a free guided tour of Tsagalalal, between April and September. However, many of the other petroglyphs are on public display during regular park hours.
     In respect for the local Native American tribes, for whom many of these ancestral images are sacred, the paved path to view the petroglyphs is pictured, not the rock art itself. The paved path is wheelchair accessible, and the large number of petroglyphs are readily visible to visitors. This outdoor display is free of charge.

See: Washington State Parks




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