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Yacolt ~ Yukon Harbor Origin Washington Geographical Names

Yacolt, a town in the northeastern part of Clarke County, was named for the prairie on which it is located. Glenn N. Ranck writes that forty years ago an old Indian gave him the following origin of the name: "Many years ago a small tribe of Indians went huckleberrying on the prairie and some of their children were mysteriously lost. Since they could not find the children they concluded that they had been stolen by evil spirits. Thereupon they called the prairie Yacolt, meaning 'haunted place'." (In Names MSS. Letter 138.)

Yahinse River, see Yakima.

Yakima, one of the most extensively used geographic terms in the State of Washington, is applied to a county, city, river, valley, pass in the Cascade Range, Indian tribe and Indian reservation. As in many other cases the name was first applied to the river and the natives who occupied the land drained by the river. Lewis and Clark, 1805-1806, give the name as "Tapteal," which they spell in several ways. Elliott Coues, the scholarly editor of their journals, gives a number of synonyms, such as "Eyakama." (History of Lewis and Clark Expedition, Volume II., page 641 and Volume III., page 973.) John H. Lynch, of Yakima, quotes the pioneer Jack Splawn as authority for "lake water" as the meaning of Yakima. (In Names MSS. Letter 302.) Henry Gannett says the word means "black bear." (Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States, page 332.) The Bureau of American Ethnology says the word means "runaway" and that the native name for the tribe was ''Waptailmim" meaning "people of the narrow river." (Handbook of American Indians, Volume II., pages 983-984.) David Thompson, of the North West Company of Montreal referred to the Indians on July 8, 1811, as "Skaemena." ("Journal," edited by T. C. Elliott, in Oregon Historical Society Quarterly, Volume XV., page 56.) Alexander Ross was with the Astorians, 1811, though his book Adventures of the First Settlers on the Oregon or Columbia River was not published until 1849, in which he uses the name "Eyakema." ("Early Western Travels" edition. Volume VII, page 141.) The Wilkes Expedition, 1841, refers to the river by the name as now spelled. (Narrative, Volume IV., page 428.) The same is true of the railroad explorers in 1853, though they call the upper portion of the river "Yahinse." (Pacific Railroad Reports, Volume I., pages 377-389.) In framing the treaty of June 9, 1855, Governor Isaac I. Stevens referred to the river and tribe as "Yakama." (Charles J. Kappler, Indian Affairs, Volume II., "Treaties," pages 698-702.) Yakima County was established by an act of the Territorial Legislature approved January 21, 1865. Hubert Howe Bancroft describes an interesting epoch as follows: "Yakima City was incorporated December 1, 1883. Twelve months later, when it had 400 inhabitants, the surveyors of the Northern Pacific railroad laid out the town of North Yakima, four miles distant from the old town, upon a broad and liberal scale, and proposed to the people of the latter that if they would consent to be removed to the new town they should be given as many lots there as they possessed in the old, and have besides their buildings moved upon them without cost to the owners. Such an agreement in writing was signed by a majority of the citizens, and in the winter and spring of 1884-1885 over 100 buildings were moved on trucks and rollers, hotels, a bank, and other business houses doing their usual business enroute. This was a good stroke of policy on the part of the railroad, general land commissioner, and the company, as it definitely settled opposition, both to the new town and the corporation, which also received a year's growth for North Yakima in ninety days' time." (Works, Volume XXXI., pages 298-300.) By act of the State Legislature approved January 30, 1917, and to go into effect on January 1, 1918, the city was permitted to drop the word "North" from its name. The same legislature also changed the name of the older town of Yakima to Union Gap.

Yakima Falls, see Prosser.

Yale, a town in the southeastern part of Cowlitz County, was formerly known by the Indian name "Spillei." The United States Post office Department selected the new name. (Anna Griffith, in Names MSS. Letter 414.) The honor was probably intended for the University.

Yannoinse River, see Teanaway River.

Yellepit, a town in the southeastern part of Benton County, was named for a great chief of the Walla Walla Indians, who was favorably mentioned by Lewis and Clark who gave him one of the famous Jefferson medals. The chief was praised by other early travelers. (David Thompson's Narrative, Champlain Society edition, page 490, note by T. C. Elliott.

Yellowhawk Creek, in Walla Walla County, was named for a Cayuse Indian chief, whose name was Petumromusmus, meaning "yellow hawk or eagle." (Myron Eells, in American Anthropologist for January, 1892.)

Yelm, an Indian name for a town and prairie in the east central part of Thurston County. The Puget Sound Agricultural Company used the name at the same place to designate a farmsite and heardsman's station. The Nisqually Journal for May 17, 1849, says: "Rode to Yelm Ferry accompanied by Wm. Macneill and dispatched an Indian from there with the letters for Vancouver." (Washington Historical Quarterly, July, 1919, page 216.) The Longmire family settled on Yelm Prairie late in 1853. For many years Yelm was the outfitting and starting point for those who attempted to ascend Mount Rainier.

Yeomalt, a town in the east central part of Kitsap County, was changed in some way from the old spelling "Yemoalt." The origin and meaning of the word have not been ascertained. (Mrs. S. Wooman, in Names MSS. Letter 5.)

Yew, see Maltby.
Yee-whaltz, an Indian name for Muck Creek.

Yoman Point, on the northeast shore of Anderson Island, in the west central part of Pierce County, was first mapped by the Wilkes Expedition, 1841. (Hydrography, Volume XXIII, Atlas, chart 79.)

Young Island, at the eastern end of the passage between Allan and Burrows Islands, in the west central part of Skagit County, was named by the Wilkes Expedition, 1841, probably in honor of Ewing Young, the Oregon pioneer whose farm had been visited by Captain Wilkes. (Narrative, Volume IV., pages 358-360.)

Yukon Harbor, a small bay in the southeastern part of Kitsap County, has obtained this name since the gold rush days up the Yukon River. It was first mapped by the Wilkes Expedition, 1841, as Barron's Bay, an honor for Commodore Samuel Barron, a comrade and friend of Captain William Bainbridge in the Tripolitan War, 1805. Captain Bainbridge was also honored in that same vicinity by the naming of the large island. (Hydrography, Volume XXIII, Atlas, chart 78.)

Washington AHGP | Geographic Names

Source: Washington Historical Quarterly, Volume 8 - 14


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