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Chloe Effron

25 Evergreen Facts About Washington

Original image
Chloe Effron

Admitted to the Union in 1889, America’s 42nd state is known for its great coffee and even greater outdoor attractions. Blanketed in lush forests and sprawling farmlands, Washington is one of America’s largest producers of fresh produce, rock & roll music, and tech start-ups. Here are 25 facts you might not know about the Evergreen State.

1. You might know that Washington State was named after American founding father George Washington, and that it’s the only state named after a president.  But did you know that Washington’s capital, Olympia, was named for the Olympic Mountains? Or that the Olympic Mountains were named after Mount Olympus of Greek legend? Explorer John Meares gave the Olympic Mountains their name in 1788, exclaiming, “If that be not the home where dwell the Gods, it is beautiful enough to be, and I therefore call it Mount Olympus.” 


2. John Meares didn’t always award his discoveries such flattering names, however. In addition to naming the Olympic Mountains, the explorer also dubbed a headland in southwest Washington “Cape Disappointment,” a name that remains to this day. Whether or not you actually find Cape Disappointment disappointing probably depends on whether you’re a fan of fog: The area is one of the most consistently overcast in the state, with an average of 106 days of fog a year.  

3. Even though Olympia is Washington’s capital, Seattle is its most populated city. In fact, close to 60 percent of Washington residents live in the Seattle metropolitan area.

4. Washington is the biggest producer of apples, raspberries, and sweet cherries in America. As of 2010, more than 90 percent of America’s red raspberries and close to three out of every five apples in the U.S. were grown in Washington. The official state fruit is the apple.

5. Washington State is 52 percent forest. The state is home to an incredibly diverse range of flora and fauna, including some of the oldest trees in the country. If you’re a lover of the great outdoors (or just fascinated by very old things), Grove of the Patriarchs trail near Mount Rainier is the perfect place to see some of the state’s oldest trees: Several are over a thousand years old and more than 25 feet in circumference.

6. Nowadays, it feels like there’s a Starbucks on every street corner in America. But the company started out in 1971 with just one store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. It remained a local establishment until the 1980s when it was purchased by Howard Shultz’s coffee company Il Giornale. It opened its first stores outside of Washington in 1987 in Chicago and Vancouver, Canada. Shultz remains CEO to this day.

Sali Sasaki, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

7. Washington State has a long and rich musical history. Seattle is, of course, famous for launching the grunge movement and the careers of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains. But a wide range of musicians come from Washington, including guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, hip hop legend Sir Mix-a-Lot, and singer/actor Bing Crosby. 

8. Back in Washington’s Wild West days, Aberdeen was thought to be the state’s toughest town. It was often called “the roughest town West of the Mississippi,” and was known for its gambling and violence. Nowadays, it’s best known as the birthplace of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. 

Brandy, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

9. Now the biggest online retailer in America, was started by Jeff Bezos in a converted garage in Bellevue, just outside of Seattle, in 1994. Their move to Seattle proper marked the start of a golden era for startups in the Pacific Northwest (and in Seattle, specifically). Outside of Silicon Valley, Seattle has become one of the fastest growing tech job markets in America in recent years.

10. Washington hosted the World’s Fair twice. In 1962, the Century 21 Expo (also known as the Seattle World’s Fair) was held in Seattle, where the Space Needle was built for the event. Then, in 1974, the first environmentally-themed world’s fair, Expo ’74, was held in Spokane. To this day, Spokane is the smallest city to host a World’s Fair. 

11. The skeletal remains of the Kennewick Man, one of the most complete ancient human skeletons every discovered, were found by two college students in Kennewick, Washington in 1996. Scientists believe the skeleton is around 9000 years old. 

12. Longview, Washington, is home to several bridges made specifically for squirrels. The first bridge, called Nutty Narrows, was constructed in 1963 by local builder Amos Peters to help squirrels cross a busy street. The bridge was so popular amongst squirrels, residents, and tourists, that four more have been constructed in different styles. 

Ted Drake, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

13. One of the best remembered, and most bizarre, high school football games in Washington history occurred in 1988 between rival teams the Colfax Bulldogs and the St. Johns Eagles. The game was a rematch, played half a century after the Eagles beat the Bulldogs 14-0 in the original 1938 game. The “Codger Bowl,” as it’s now known, was played by a group of former high school football stars in their late 60s, and was organized by former Colfax resident and movie star John Crawford. In the end, the Bulldogs beat the Eagles 6-0, and an enormous 65-foot-tall statue was carved to commemorate the game and its elderly players. 

14. If you’re hankering for a damn fine cup of coffee and a slice of cherry pie, Twede’s Cafe in North Bend has both. It’s also the cafe that was used to film the Double R Diner scenes in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks.

Elizabeth, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

15. While Washington is home to many awe-inspiring forests, the Ginkgo Petrified Tree Forest in Eastern Washington is one of the most unique. In the 1930s, highway workers digging up land for a new road found their progress hindered by pieces of fallen tree as hard as rock. These were the fossilized—or petrified—remains of ancient trees. The government decided to set the land aside for a historic preserve, and founded the Ginkgo Petrified Tree Forest, which soon became famous for its fascinating fossils, and for its Wanapum petroglyphs (Wanapum carvings dating back centuries).

agit-prop, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

16. It’s illegal to shoot Bigfoot in Skamania County, Washington. According to one account, the law was put in the books at the height of the Bigfoot craze—not to protect the mythical creature, but to protect citizens from the overly enthusiastic, weapon-toting paranormal enthusiasts flocking to the area. In Texas, meanwhile, hunting Bigfoot is completely legal on private land (as long as you have the landowner’s consent).

17. Seattle is home to a Dialysis Museum, which is dedicated to preserving the history of dialysis machines and the treatment of kidney disease in the United States.

18. Founded in Long Beach in 1935, Marsh’s Free Museum is more sideshow than field trip fodder. The museum, which is free to visit (but has plenty of tantalizing souvenirs for sale) boasts oddities like “Jake The Alligator Man,” a taxidermied “Half-Man Half-Gator.”

19. Washington is a popular location for filmmaking. Films shot in the state include 2002's The Ring (which used Seattle’s fog to great effect), The Hunt For Red October (1990), and 10 Things I Hate About You (1999).

20. The Washington State Fair, also known as the Puyallup Fair, is the largest annual attraction in the state. The fair combines food, amusement park attractions (including a Merry-Go-Round that’s been in operation at the fair since 1923), and livestock competitions.

21. During World War II, the Washington State Fairgrounds were put to a darker use. Renamed “Camp Harmony,” the grounds were used for the internment of Japanese Americans.

22. According to a 2014 study of restaurant menus around America, prawns are the most distinctly “Washingtonian” food. That is, while they’re not necessarily the state’s most beloved cuisine or its most frequently served, they are served in Washington more often than in any other state. According to the study, prawn dishes appear on 47 percent of Washington’s restaurant menus (as opposed to 9 percent throughout the other 49 states). 

23. Father’s Day originated in Washington in 1910. It began as a statewide holiday, created by Spokane resident Sonora Smart Dodd, who wanted to find a way to honor her own father, a civil war veteran and single parent who had raised six children on his own. 

24. The official state folk song of Washington is “Roll on Columbia, Roll On” by Woody Guthrie. Though Guthrie never lived in Washington State, he was inspired by the state during his brief visit in 1941.

25. The official state song of Washington, meanwhile, is “Washington, My Home.” However, few Washingtonians know the words to the official song, and in 1985, Whatcom County Commissioner Craig Cole petitioned the State of Washington to change the official state song to "Louie Louie" which was written by Richard Berry in 1955 and first made popular by Tacoma-based group The Wailers in 1960. (The Oregon-based Kingsmen, of course, would go on to record the 1963 version we all still croon in the shower today.)

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Wellcome Images // CC BY 4.0
5 Dubious Historical Antidotes for Poison (and What Actually Works)
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An artificial bezoar stone from Goa, India
Wellcome Images // CC BY 4.0

When it comes to their health, humans will believe just about anything. In this extract from the new book Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything, authors Lydia Kang, MD, and Nate Pedersen discuss some of the more questionable ways people once tried to protect themselves from poison—whether or not the methods actually worked.

Poison is everywhere. Naturally or unnaturally, it can be in the soil (arsenic), in the air (carbon monoxide), in your drinks (lead), and in your food (cyanide). With so much danger around, it’s no wonder humans have obsessed over finding a universal antidote—the one thing that could save us from all toxins. Imagine you’re a medieval prince about to inherit the throne. Chances are, there are a lot of power-hungry wannabes waiting in the wings. A little arsenic or hemlock might be your best friend or your worst nightmare. Just in case, best have an antidote on standby.

For millennia, a certain amount of magical thinking was employed when arming oneself against poison because science was inconveniently slow to catch up. So grab your handy unicorn horn and a bezoar, and let’s take a look.


Bezoars have been used for centuries as antidotes to poisons. A bezoar is solid mass of undigested food, plant fibers, or hair found in the digestive tracts of animals, including deer, porcupines, fish, and, yes, humans. Anyone with a cat is familiar with the less-cool feline version: hairballs.

Bezoars and other stone-like items created by animals often had a good story behind them. Legends told of deer that would eat poisonous snakes and become immune or cry tears that solidified into poison-curing stones. First-century Arabic author al-Birumi claimed bezoars could protect against one poison called “the snot of Satan,” which we hope never ever to encounter. By the 12th century, when Europe became plagued with, uh, plagues, the bezoar crept into pharmacopeias as panaceas and alexipharmics (poison antidotes).

Bezoars were a seductive notion for the rich and royal, who were at risk of assassination. The stones were often enclosed in bejeweled gold for display or worn as amulets. Indian bezoars, in particular, were sought for life-threatening fevers, poisonous bites, bleeding, jaundice, and melancholy. Consumers were also known to scrape off a bit of bezoar and add it to their drinks for heart health and kidney stones. These tonics were sometimes adulterated with toxic mercury or antimony, which caused vomiting and diarrhea, making buyers think they were effective.

But were they? One team of researchers soaked bezoars in an arsenic-laced solution and found that the stones absorbed the arsenic or that the poison was neutralized. Hard to say if it worked well enough to cure a fatal dose. Ambroise Paré, one of the preeminent French physicians of the 16th century, was also a doubter. The king’s cook, who’d been stealing silver, was given the choice between hanging or being Paré’s lab rat. He chose the latter. After the cook consumed poison, Paré looked on as a bezoar was stuffed down his throat. Six hours later, he died wracked with pain. Perhaps he chose ... poorly?


This antidote was named after Mithridates VI, the king of Pontus and Armenia Minor. Born in 134 BCE, he pretty much invented the phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” by consuming poisons daily to prevent his own assassination. His royal home was stocked with stingray spines, toxic mushrooms, scorpions, mineral poisons, and a poisonous plant–filled garden. He was so unpoisonable that after his son took over his kingdom and he faced execution, he couldn’t even commit suicide by poison! He begged a guard to stab him to death. (It worked.)

Though the king’s actual recipe for the antidote is nowhere to be found, versions began to circulate after his death, and they became synonymous with the king himself. Compounds with lengthy and expensive ingredient lists prevailed, including iris, cardamom, anise, frankincense, myrrh, ginger, and saffron. In the first century, Pliny the Elder snarkily remarked, “The Mithridatic antidote is composed of fifty-four ingredients ... Which of the gods, in the name of Truth, fixed these absurd proportions? ... It is plainly a showy parade of the art, and a colossal boast of science.”

Showy or not, people would take the extensive mix of herbs, pound them together with honey, and eat a nut-sized portion to cure themselves. At least it endowed them with expensive-smelling breath.


An apothecary shop sign in the shape of a unicorn
An ivory pharmacy sign in the shape of a unicorn's head
Wellcome Images // CC BY 4.0

Unicorn horns have been considered a part of antidote legend since the mythical beast galloped into literature around 300 BCE. For centuries afterward, real earthly beasts would sacrifice their lives and their horns to slake our thirst for the miraculous, nonexistent animal, including rhinoceroses, narwhals, and oryx. Even fossilized ammonites were used. It was believed that drinking vessels made of such horns might neutralize poisons, and wounds could be cured by holding them close by. In the 16th century, Mary, Queen of Scots reportedly used a unicorn horn to protect her from poisoning. Too bad it didn’t prevent her beheading.


Pearls have long been thought to be powerful antidotes. A beautiful, rare gem created by the homely oyster, a pearl is born out of annoyance (the mollusk secretes iridescent nacre to cover an irritant, like a parasite or grain of sand). Pretty as they are, they’re about as useful as the chalky antacid tablets on your bedside table; both are chiefly made of calcium carbonate. Good for a stomachache after some spicy food, but not exactly miraculous.

Pearl powder has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a variety of diseases, and Ayurvedic physicians used it as an antidote in the Middle Ages. It was also reported to make people immortal. An old Taoist recipe recommended taking a long pearl and soaking it in malt, “serpent’s gall,” honeycomb, and pumice stone. When softened, it would be pulled like taffy and cut into bite-sized pieces to eat, and voilà! You would suddenly no longer need food to stay alive. Cleopatra famously drank down a large and costly pearl dissolved in wine vinegar, though in that case she wasn’t avoiding poison. She didn’t want to lose a bet with Antony—which might have fatally injured her pride.


Albarello vase for theriac, Italy, 1641
A vase for theriac, Italy, 1641
Wellcome Images // CC BY 4.0

Theriac was an herbal concoction created in the first century by Emperor Nero’s physician, Andromachus, who was reported to have Mithridates’s secret notes. It was a mashed formula of about 70 ingredients, including cinnamon, opium, rose, iris, lavender, and acacia in a honey base. In the 12th century, theriac made in Venice was branded as particularly special, and Venetian treacle (derived from a Middle English translation of theriac) became a hot commodity. Its public, dramatic production often attracted curious crowds.

By the 18th century, cheaper golden syrup was substituted for honey. As treacle began to lose its luster as a treatment, its definition as an herbal remedy disappeared from common vernacular. But the sweet syrup remained. Which is why when we think of treacle, we think of treacle tarts, not a fancy means of saving ourselves from a deathly poisoning.


Thankfully, science has brought us a wide range of antidotes for many items we shouldn’t be exposed to in dangerous quantities, if at all. N-acetylcysteine, fondly referred to as NAC by doctors, saves us from acetaminophen overdoses. Ethanol can treat antifreeze poisoning. Atropine, ironically one of the main components of plants in the toxic nightshade family (such as mandrake), can treat poisoning from some dangerous fertilizers and chemical nerve agents used as weapons. For years, poisonings were treated with emetics, though it turns out that plain old carbon—in the form of activated charcoal—can adsorb poisons (the poisons stick to the surface of the charcoal) in the digestive system before they’re dissolved and digested by the body.

As long as the natural world and its humans keep making things to kill us off, we’ll keep developing methods to not die untimely deaths.

We’ll just leave the fancy hairballs off the list.

The cover of the book Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything
Workman Publishing

Excerpt from Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia Kang, MD and Nate Pedersen/Workman Publishing. Used with permission.

Original image
By Napoleon Sarony - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
25 of Oscar Wilde's Wittiest Quotes
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By Napoleon Sarony - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

On October 16, 1854, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland. He would go on to become one of the world's most prolific writers, dabbling in everything from plays and poetry to essays and fiction. Whatever the medium, his wit shone through.


"I think that God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability."


"The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast."


"Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much."


"It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious."


"The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never any use to oneself."


"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go."


"What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing."


"A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal."


"When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is."


"There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it."


"Work is the curse of the drinking classes."


"Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination."


"True friends stab you in the front."


"All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his."


"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."


"There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."


"Genius is born—not paid."


"Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike."


"How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being?"


"A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally."


"My own business always bores me to death; I prefer other people’s."


"The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything."


"I like men who have a future and women who have a past."


"There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope."

25. ON WIT

"Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit."

And one bonus quote about Oscar Wilde! Dorothy Parker said it best in a 1927 issue of Life:

If, with the literate, I am
Impelled to try an epigram,
I never seek to take the credit;
We all assume that Oscar said it.


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