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Cle Elum, Washington
—  City  —
Motto: "Heart of The Cascades"
Location of Cle Elum in Washington State
Coordinates: 47°13′6.3″N 120°57′46.48″W / 47.218417°N 120.9629111°W / 47.218417; -120.9629111Coordinates: 47°13′6.3″N 120°57′46.48″W / 47.218417°N 120.9629111°W / 47.218417; -120.9629111
Country United States
State Washington
County United States of America
Founded February 12, 1902
 - City 3.5 sq mi (3.8 km2)
 - Land 1.5 sq mi (3.8 km2)
 - Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 1,913 ft (583 m)
Population (2009)
 - City 1,870
 Density 507/sq mi (456.7/km2)
 Metro 6,500
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP code 98922
Area code(s) 509
FIPS code 53-12945[1]
GNIS feature ID 1517819[2]

Cle Elum is a city in Kittitas County, Washington, United States. The population was 1,755 at the 2000 census.The population is now estimated at 1,870



The founders of Cle Elum were Thomas L. Gamble (later known as Judge Gamble) and Walter J. Reed. Mr. Gamble took up a Quarter section of land in Section 26, Township 20 North, and Range 15 East, in April, 1883 with the intent of farming the land. Mr. Reed took a claim adjoining Mr. Gamble's on the West. On those two preemptive claims the town was laid out. The date of these filings was three years prior to the discovery of coal. Scattered discoveries of coal ledges had been made in 1883 and 1884, but in 1886 a definite discovery of a large ledge of good coal in paying quantities made it clear that a most important stage had come in the history of the region and populations in the region began to increase. Meanwhile, the Northern Pacific Railway was seeking a route over the Cascade Mountains.

Some assert that the selection of the Stampede Pass was determined by the coal discovery. In the Spring of 1886 the railroad engineers under Mr. Bogue and Mr. Huson were making their survey through the region with the intent of establishing a station. At the site of the future city, a Northern Pacific Railway station was named Clealum after the Kittitas name Tle-el-Lum (tlielləm), meaning "swift water", referring to the Cle Elum River. In 1908, Clealum was altered to Cle Elum.[3] The name was given to the river, the city, and Cle Elum Lake. Walter Reed entered into a partnership with Thomas Johnson of Ellensburg and laid out sixty-five acres as a site. This was legally dedicated on July 26. of 1886. Mr. Johnson had owned a sawmill on Wilson Creek, in Grant County and he moved the mill to the new location in the vicinity of the new town. The partners, Reed and Johnson, established what was undoubtedly the largest mill up to that time in central or Eastern Washington, cutting 40,000 feel per day. At the same time, Frederick Leonhard, who with his brother-in-law, Gerrit d'Ablaing, had been carrying on a mill on Cooke Creek and later on the Naneum, moved to the vicinity of Cle Elum. They cut a large part of the lumber for the Stampede Tunnel.

On October 11, 1886, the first Northern Pacific Railroad train pulled into the new Cle Elum station. Following the arrival of the railway, the small town began to grow rapidly. Two stores were opened in 1886, one by Thomas Johnson, the other by Theron Stafford. A large school district was laid out, for thus far there were few children in the district. The old Reed cabin was transformed into a schoolhouse, and the salary for the teacher was raised by subscription. Mr. Reed had meanwhile built a hotel, which continued to be the major hotel in Cle Elum for many years. The first local election in Cle Elum occurred November 9, 1886. H.C. Witters was first justice of the peace, followed by the first inhabitant, Judge Gamble. The post office was established with the beginning of 1888, Dr. Wheelock becoming first postmaster. In that year Mr. Gamble laid out the larger part of his farm in a new settlement which he called Hazelwood. Subsequently this plat was relaid as the Hazelwood addition to Cle Elum. A large portion of Cle Elum was destroyed on July 23, 1891 by a fire which began in the Stafford store. $50,000 dollars in damage was caused with little insurance by any of the losers.

In 1894 a company consisting of Oscar James, Isaac Davis, Charles Hamer, and James Smith, made a bargain with Thomas Gamble to run a mine shaft on his property for the purpose of a test of the coal deposits. They had a forty-year lease on the place and did a considerable amount of construction work. In 1900, the Northwestern Improvement Company acquired the lease, and immediately made large improvements, as a result of which the mines came to be one of the greatest factors in the business of the county.

Cle Elum was officially incorporated on February 12, 1902. Thomas Gamble was the first mayor.

Cle Elum's greatest disaster occurred on June 25, 1918 when a huge fire wiped out over seventy acres of the city (29 city blocks) at a cost of over $500,000 dollars in damages. The cause was later determined to most likely to be a discarded cigarette butt thrown into a pile of garbage behind a theater. Thirty businesses and 205 houses were destroyed leaving more than 1,800 people homeless. Fortunately no lives were lost in the incident. High insurance rates on Cle Elum's many wooden structures inhibited many people from purchasing it. One of the few buildings in downtown Cle Elum to survive the fire was the Cle Elum State Bank Building, built in 1906 it still stands today. The rest of downtown was quickly rebuilt of brick and many of these buildings still stand.

Headed by John Bresko, Cle Elum was the first to have 'organized' skiing west of Denver, Colorado. Starting in 1921, 100–400 people would be on the ski hill every weekend through the winter. 1931 saw the largest crowd est. at 8,000 spectators for the ski jumping events. The depression ended the skiing and jumping events in 1934.

Famous Residents

Douglas Munro grew up in Cle Elum. He served in the United States Coast Guard during World War II. He was killed in action while evacuating Marines during the Battle of Guadalcanal and for his extraordinary heroism, outstanding leadership and gallantry, Munro posthumously received the Medal of Honor, the only Coast Guardsman to ever receive the military's highest honor. The Coast Guard Cutter USCGC Munro (WHEC-724) was also named in his honor.

The town was also the birthplace of astronaut Dick Scobee, the commander of the Space Shuttle Challenger on the day of its explosion.

Freestyle skier Patrick Deneen, a member of the US Olympic Team for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, is a native of Cle Elum where his family has a ranch. Deneen's father Pat was the part owner and general manager of the Hyak ski area before it became part of The Summit at Snoqualmie.


Cle Elum is located in Upper Kittitas County. It is bordered on the north side by the Cle Elum Ridge and the south side by the South Cle Elum Ridge including Peoh Point. The Yakima River Runs through it and also Crystal Creek.

Cle Elum is located at 47°11′39″N 120°56′15″W / 47.19417°N 120.9375°W / 47.19417; -120.9375 (47.194293, -120.937537).[4]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.8 km² (1.5 mi²), all land. It borders South Cle Elum and Roslyn.


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1870 4
1880 543 13,475.0%
1890 243 −55.2%
1900 296 21.8%
1910 2,749 828.7%
1920 2,661 −3.2%
1930 2,508 −5.7%
1940 2,230 −11.1%
1950 2,206 −1.1%
1960 1,816 −17.7%
1970 1,725 −5.0%
1980 1,773 2.8%
1990 1,778 0.3%
2000 1,755 −1.3%
Est. 3142 18,764,324 Error in {{val}}: first argument is not a valid number or requires too much precision to display. %

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 1,755 people, 792 households, and 1448 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,182.8 people per square mile (457.8/km²). There were 956 housing units at an average density of 644.3/sq mi (249.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.16% White, 0.51% African American, 1.03% Native American, 0.57% Asian, 0.85% from other races, and 1.88% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.36% of the population.

There were 792 households out of which 67.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.1% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.4% were non-families. 35.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.87.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.2% under the age of 18, 7.6% from 18 to 24, 26.7% from 25 to 44, 24.6% from 45 to 64, and 17.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 93.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,144, and the median income for a family was $39,000. Males had a median income of $32,750 versus $26,645 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,620. About 17.4% of families and 20.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.3% of those under age 18 and 18.5% of those age 65 or over.

City Heights Development

Teanaway Solar Reserve

Cle Elum-Roslyn School District

  • High Schools

Cle Elum - Roslyn High School ~Home of the Warriors.

  • Middle Schools

Walter Strom Middle School ~Home of the Wildcats

  • Secondary Schools

Swiftwater Learning Center~ (Alternative School)

  • Elementary School

Cle Elum - Roslyn Elementary School ~ Home of the Grey Wolves

All schools and administrative buildings (except Swiftwater Learning Center and the Transportation Department) are located on SR 903 in the Cle Elum UGA.

Cle Elum Medical Center

Cle Elum Medical Center (formerly Cle Elum Family Medicine Center) underwent an almost $1,000,000 renovation and expansion in June 2007. The medical center, which provides healthcare to almost 10,000 residents of the upper county, and over 1,000,000 travelers, who pass through the town, is equipped with an after-hour urgent care center, for non-life threatening injuries and illnesses

Points of Interest in Cle Elum

  • Cle Elum Telephone Museum - This museum was established in 1966 when the Bell Telephone Company deeded its former central office building to the Cle Elum Historical Society. At that time Cle Elum became the last in the telephone company's service area to be changed over from manual phone service to automatic dialing.
  • Suncadia resort- is a five star, four season resort located on the west border of the city.
  • Carpenter House Museum - A step over the threshold of the Carpenter House is a step into the past. This marvelous 1914 mansion, with its spacious rooms, tiny alcoves and third-floor ballroom, holds the story of Cle Elum's first successful banker and his family. High Country Artists shares this historic house, and its art displays provide visitors an added experience.
  • The Mines - Visit City hall (located on the corner of Oakes Avenue and First Street) for information on mine tours.
  • The Coal Mines Trail- Following an abandoned mining railway easement, this spectacular trail passes several historic mining sites as it makes its way along Crystal Creek and up to Roslyn, WA, also going by Rick Winter's house. This generous walking path (former railway bed) has a gentle grade that is suitable for almost all hikers, walkers and bikers.


Cle Elum is presided over by a strong mayor and a six-member city council. As of 2007 the following were in Office:

  • Honorable Mayor Troy A. Riblett
  • Council Persons
    • Jim Eidemiller
    • Bonnie Reay
    • Warren Perry
    • Ken Ratliff
    • Arthur Scott
    • Mickey Holz
    • Ron Spears
  • City Administrator, Gregg Hall
  • Community Development Director, Matthew Morton
  • Public Works Director, Jim Leonhard

City council meetings have been traditionally held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month at 7:00 p.m. in City Hall Council Chambers.


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "Cle Elum". Washington Place Names database. Tacoma Public Library. Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ Moffatt, Riley. Population History of Western U.S. Cities & Towns, 1850-1990. Lanham: Scarecrow, 1996, 316.
  6. ^ "Subcounty population estimates: Washington 2000-2007" (CSV). United States Census Bureau, Population Division. 2009-03-18. Retrieved 2009-05-10. 
  • Lyman, W.D. (1919). History of the Yakima Valley, Washington, Comprising Yakima, Kittitas and Benton Counties. The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co.. pp. 762–777. 

External links



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