City Names

(As with any history, this information is subject to imperfection.
It is the best information I've been able to collect) 

Spokane: There was once a hollow tree. When an Indian beat upon it, a serpent living inside made a noise which sounded like Spukcane, a phonetic sound without meaning in the tribe's language. One day, as the tribe's chief pondered the sound, vibrations radiated from his head. Eventually, the word Spukcane came to have the vague meaning, "Power from the brain". 

When white men first found this tribe, the Spokanes called themselves Spukanee, which is translated as "Sun People," or "Children of the Sun."  They called their chief Illim-Spukanee, or "Chief Sun."  No one knows exactly how, why, or when Spukcane (power from the brain) came to be replaced by Spukanee (Children of the Sun) which was rendered in English as Spokane. Some maintain that the word Spokane was originally the name of the head chief and of nothing else. Source: mainly, The Spokane Indians, By Robert H. Ruby and John A. Brown, plus other studies.

Kennewick: The Wanapum Indian name was Anhwash which was just a place name in other words with no other meaning. It was named Kennewick by H. S. Huson of the Northern Pacific Irrigation Company who said the word was from the Indian language (Kin-i-wach) and meant "Grassy Place with water around it." The last Wanapums have no knowledge of the word. Kennewick had the earlier name of Tee-He, at which one old-time visitor remarked: "I don't wonder." It was also called Bluelight and Headlight. At the willow forest near the famous railroad bridge, there was a gunfight between the Sheriff and a Bandit who had escaped from jail. Source: Drummers and Dreamers, by Click Relander.

Richland: Was named in 1904 for Nelson Rich, a Prosser settler of 1883, store owner, and extensive landholder who died in 1932 when he was eighty-eight. Source: Drummers and Dreamers, by Click Relander.

Pasco: The name Pasco is probably an abbreviation for the name "Pacific Steamship Company." This was an organization owned by the wealthy Mr. Ainsworth. About 1883, before a railroad abridge was built across the Columbia (connecting Pasco with railroad tracks leading over the Cascade Range to Puget Sound), large steel barges were used to transport the Northern Pacific's railroad cars across the water here. Since the barges were operated by the Pacific Steamship Company, the bills of lading pasted on the outside of each freight car were stamped "VIA PASCO" in huge, conspicuous letters. From this beginning, use of the word "Pasco" spread.  The departure of passenger trains from the budding town's depot were announced by the train master's loud voice: "All aboard, all aboard, passengers now departing for points west via Pasco;" thus the town gradually gained its present name. Source: Washington State Place Names, by Doug Brokenshire.

Eltopia: Twenty-one miles out of Ainsworth was a water tank known as Twin Wells. It is now Eltopia but it was not always called that.  A survey party, camping in the barren waste of sand where there was neither wood nor water, named it, in typical western style, "Hell-to-Pay."  The railroad later modestly changed the name to Eltopay and subsequently to Eltopia. Source: Drummers and Dreamers, by Click Relander.

Kahlotus and Washtucna:  Kahlotus is in the foothills of northeastern Franklin County and started around 1880 when a store was opened in a sidetracked boxcar. At one time when the railway came and a tunnel was constructed in 1904-8, there were seventeen saloons at Kahlotus and two hundred dance-hall girls. The old timers say that at the bottom of Kahlotus Lake, near by, are seventeen saloon keys. They were thrown into the lake when the railroad came and the saloons were kept open day and night.

Washtucna was the name of a Palouse Indian chief. The village is in Adams County, twelve miles east of Kahlotus.

Kahlotus used to be named Washtucna and vice verci. The railway left some horseshoes for a blacksmith shop that were have gone to Kahlotus and, rather than admit the mistake, the railroad changed the names of the two towns since it had it in its power to do so. Source: Drummers and Dreamers, by Click Relander.