Senate votes to make ‘The Evergreen State’ Washington’s official nickname

Wilson bill corrects an oversight dating back to 1893

OLYMPIA – With a vote Tuesday afternoon, the state Senate declared Washington to be “The Evergreen State” and attempted once again to clear up an oversight that dates back 131 years.

It’s the second try for Senate Bill 5595, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview. His bill passed the Senate last year, but did not receive a vote in the state House.

But it may be the third time the Washington Senate has voted on the proposition. During the legislative session of 1893, newspapers reported that the Senate had approved a resolution formally adopting the state nickname. The problem is that no one in the Legislature has been able to find any record of it. For all anyone knows, the record of the vote may have been mislaid.

In remarks on the Senate floor Tuesday, Wilson said it’s time to fix that mistake. “We have a state ship and a state sport, but when it comes to our nickname, Mr. President, it’s never been made official.”

The people of Washington have been using the nickname since 1890, when Seattle real estate agent Charles Conover used it on a promotional brochure. The phrase was used by Gov. John McGraw in his 1893 inaugural address, and it was promoted heavily at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, where Washington hosted a pavilion.

The affirmation of Washington state’s long-familiar nickname passed the Senate 47-2 and goes to the House for the second time – or maybe the third.