U.S. Presidents Who Have Visited Tri-Cities
On Presidents Day, we'd like to take some time to remember some official presidential visits to our area. The Tri-Cities area has been very important in American history, whether it's B-Reactor's involvement in WWII, or the Columbia River's importance to the Department of Energy. A number of presidents have visited the area, so let's take a look through the lens of history.
Lyndon B. Johnson
Although he would not become president until more than a year later, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson dedicated Ice Harbor Dam in May of 1962. Another president would note this fact during his own visit to Ice Harbor Dam more than 40 years later.
John F. Kennedy
Just two months before his death, President John F. Kennedy visited Hanford for a groundbreaking ceremony and dedication. N-Reactor would be, according to President Kennedy, "the largest nuclear power reactor for peaceful purposes in the world." 37,000 people watched as the 35th President of the United States stepped out of a helicopter and up to a podium. N-Reactor produced steam (for electricity) and plutonium until 1987. It was finally deactivated in 1998.
In September of 1971, Richard Nixon was the second United States President to visit the Hanford Site. During his speech, he told the audience that he would request Congress's authorization for a second fast breeder reactor at the site. He also noted that "more PhDs lived in this area than any area of the United States."
George W. Bush
While running for President, George W. Bush was in favor of protecting several dams on the Snake River. In 2003, he would visit one of them. President Bush's visit was the first by a President since Nixon, and he was joined by Congressmen Doc Hastings and George Nethercutt. Bush made this visit to talk about salmon recovery. You can see a full transcript of his speech here.
Honorable Mention: Theodore Roosevelt's State of the Union Address
While Franklin Roosevelt would dedicate the Grand Coulee Dam, it was Theodore Roosevelt who brought attention to the problem with interstate fisheries in the United States. He notably named the Columbia River in his 1908 State of the Union Address:
The salmon fisheries of the Columbia River are now but a fraction of what they were twenty-five years ago, and what they would be now if the United States Government had taken complete charge of them by intervening between Oregon and Washington. During these twenty-five years the fishermen of each State have naturally tried to take all they could get, and the two legislatures have never been able to agree on joint action of any kind adequate in degree for the protection of the fisheries. At the moment the fishing on the Oregon side is practically closed, while there is no limit on the Washington side of any kind, and no one can tell what the courts will decide as to the very statutes under which this action and non-action result.
Thank you for taking this journey through history with me. Happy Presidents Day!