About This Place
Ellensburg is a city in, and the county seat of, Kittitas County, Washington, United States. The population was 18,174 at the 2010 census. The population was 18,250 at 2011 Estimate from Office of Financial Management. Ellensburg is located just east of the Cascade Range on I-90 and is known as the most centrally located city in the state. Ellensburg is the home of Central Washington University (CWU).
The surrounding Kittitas Valley is internationally known for the timothy-hay that it produces. There are several local hay brokering and processing operations that ship to Pacific Rim countries. Downtown Ellensburg has many historic buildings, many of which were constructed in the late 19th century. This is a legacy of its bid to be the state capital, which it lost to Olympia. CWU being placed there is another product of that legacy. The state legislature selected Ellensburg as the location for the then Normal School as a consolation prize. Eastern Washington has a much drier climate than Western Washington, and some Seattle-area residents have moved to the city and commute over Snoqualmie Pass on I-90 to jobs located in the Puget Sound region.
Ellensburg was officially incorporated on November 26, 1883. John Alden Shoudy came to the Kittitas Valley in 1871, and purchased a small trading post from Andrew Jackson "A.J." Splawn, called "Robber's Roost." Robber's Roost was the first business in the valley, other than the early trading that occurred among Indians, cattle drivers, trappers, and miners. Robber's Roost was located on the present-day 3rd Avenue, just west of Main Street near the alley. There is a placard on the wall commemorating the location, as well as a small stone monument against the wall on the sidewalk. Shoudy named the town after his wife, Mary Ellen Shoudy, and officially began the city of Ellensburgh around 1872. Shoudy was not the first settler in the Kittitas Valley, nor was he the first businessperson, but he was responsible for platting the city of Ellensburgh in the 1870s, and he was the person who named the streets in the downtown district.