Nickname Dropping

Washington Still Isn't the Evergreen State, Officially Speaking

Come on, Olympia. How hard is this?

By Benjamin Cassidy March 14, 2022


Another legislative session has come and gone, and some of the wackiest stuff on Washington's agenda did not come to pass. No state dinosaur. No state of Liberty.

You can understand why our local representatives didn't prioritize zipper merging. With a shorter session this year, the bigwigs in Olympia focused on more pressing matters, like delaying the long-term care tax and banning high-capacity firearm magazines and, of course, approving a budget.

But would it have been so hard to legislate away one annoying technicality?

Despite what many assume, Washington has never been officially nicknamed "The Evergreen State." In 1889, Charles Tallmadge Conover coined this title for a booklet promoting the sylvan appeal of Washington and its "metropolis," Seattle. Conover was in the midst of transitioning from the newspaper business to real estate (truly a man ahead of his time). Though the moniker quickly won political support, it was never technically adopted by the state.

This year, a bill aimed to change that. State senator Jim Honeyford and company submitted an extraordinarily modest proposal: to designate "the Evergreen State" as  "the official nickname of the state of Washington." That was it. Well, almost it. An amended version of the bill added that no "existing materials, documents, or publications" would need to be updated to accommodate the law. This wouldn't create a University Street station situation.

During a public hearing, one constituent expressed some hesitation to codifying Washington's nickname. "We should be a louder state than just a quiet, rainy, cold, evergreen state."

This very compelling testimony didn't stop the senate from passing the bill with nary a nay. But the legislation never reached a vote in the other chamber.

Which means another year of having a state vegetable (Walla Walla sweet onion), state dance (square), and a state folk song ("Roll On, Columbia, Roll On"), but no state nickname. We even figured out the whole state sport thing this session.

The nickname is already everywhere, from license plates to a state college to a commemorative quarter. But it would be nice to have the "well, actually" guy at trivia be wrong for once about just how official that nickname is.

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