Kind of thought of this when hearing those spa ads on the radio, the ones where the announcer pronounces it a little off, saying "Pas-cow".  You've heard them. yikes!

But I started to wonder, where exactly did the city get it's name anyway? It's kind of unique.  A look at history shows a remarkable journey.

Pasco actually began as Ainsworth, a small but now vanished hamlet that sprang up from Northern Pacific Railroad activity and growth from 1879 until 1884. It was about two miles Southeast of Pasco, on the North side of the Snake River. After years of being known as a rowdy lawless prototypical western town, it went away with the construction of a railroad bridge over the water. The railroad and other companies set up a more permanent location west up the Columbia, and it voila! Pasco was born.

According to, here's the origins of where it got it's name. There's actually four versions.

  • A railroad supervising engineer who built a railroad in Peru said the terrain reminded him of that area. The name of the Peruvian area was Cerro del Pasco.
  • Another says it was done as a contrast from the cold Peruvian village (Pasco) to the heat of our Pasco
  • Another says it was done out of spite, naming the area after a "disagreeable" remote and harsh Mexican village named "Pasco." That was due to our heat, winds and climate.
  • The final version claims a railroad engineer who was in charge of several projects couldn't think of a name, but was inspired by the abbreviated letters of the Pacific American Shipping Company, or PASCO.

So now you know, it could be any of the four that gave the city it's rather unique name. None of them has been 'officially' verified, so go with the one you like best.


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