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Throwback Thursday: The Fourth Tri-City That Lasted Only 5 Years!


One of the most popular topics on the Tri-Cities Reddit page right now is the ghost town of Ainsworth.

Ainsworth was a town founded on the north bank of the Snake River where it connects to the Columbia River (near where Sacajawea State Park is today). It was platted way back in 1879 when there was still trouble with American Indians. From the US Army engineer who did the platting:

Ainsworth is one of the most uncomfortable, abominable places in America to live in. You can scan the horizon in vain for a tree or anything resembling one. The heat through the summer is excessive and high winds prevail and blow the sands about into everything.”

The Northern Pacific Railway Company completed its line from Spokane to Ainsworth in 1883. It was known as a “ruff-and-tumble” place full of “riff raff.” It averaged 400 or 500 people with a maximum of 1,500 — half of those likely being Chinese immigrants.

When Ainsworth was named the Franklin County seat in 1883, many of the local businesses were run by Chinese immigrants.

The railroad chose to build its bridge across the Columbia River a mile north in 1884. This resulted in the settlement of Pasco growing faster than Ainsworth, and eventually swallowing it. Pasco was named county seat in 1885.

The entire life of the town was about five years!

If you find slabs of concrete along the river at Sacajawea park, some say those could be remnants from Ainsworth, but they could also be remnants of a ferry dock on the same shore.


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