Cashmere is a city in Chelan County, Washington. It is part of the Wenatchee–East Wenatchee Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 2,965 at the 2000 census. The community was incoporated in 1904. Cashmere is 63 miles from Yakima and about 79 miles from Seattle.
Ntuatckam, a Sinpesquensi village of about 400 in 1850, once stood on the site of present Cashmere. During the period before the major influx of white settlers, Catholic missionaries, particularly Father Urban Grassi, had worked to convert the Indians of the area. Over the years, they built several small missions, the main one being St. Francis Xavier, constructed in 1873. In 1888 they erected the church building for which the small village that later became Cashmere was called Mission, or Old Mission.
During its first years, the main resources around Mission were timber and sheep ranching, and the town soon became a trading center. In 1881, the first settler, German immigrant Alexander Brender, established his homestead in Brender Canyon. In 1882, D. S. Farrar arrived. He raised hay and is credited with bringing the first fruit trees in 1883. Other settlers came, including William Bourgwardt, Matt Green, Denis Strong, O. C. McManus, and Reuben A. Brown, whose son Samuel L. was the first white child born in the valley.
Most of these early settlers and the goods to supply the community arrived in Cashmere by way of nearly impassable roads and trails from Ellensburg over Blewett Pass, treacherous even well into the automobile era. Others came by steamboat on the Columbia and by trails along the Wenatchee. There were no bridges across the Wenatchee, which had to be forded in several places.
Today three bridges span the Wenatchee River at Cashmere. When the old Sunset Highway was constructed to connect Seattle with Spokane by way of Stevens Pass, it went directly through the residential district and the downtown. In 1959 a four-lane bypass was opened between Cashmere and Dryden, part of the improved Highway 2 over Stevens Pass. On October 19, 1910, Governor Albert D. Rosellini cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony. Apparently the town had no objections to this bypass of its commercial center, for according to the Wenatchee World of October 19, 1959, “The new highway stands as a tribute to Mayor Eric Braun and all the citizens of Cashmere and Dryden whose effort made this highway possible”
On July 27, 1892, John F. Woodring and I. W. Sherman registered the plat for the new town site. The Great Northern Railway arrived in the Wenatchee Valley during the same year.
The first decades of the twentieth century saw great civic improvement. In 1904 Mission acquired its first physician, Dr. Harry J. Martin. Elms and poplars were planted along the streets, and before 1910, telephones had arrived. The town had paved sidewalks by 1913, electric lights in 1914 and paved streets in 1919. The Cashmere Valley Record has been in continuous publication since 1907.
Perhaps the biggest change during the early years was the new name. Mission shared its name with several other towns in the Northwest, causing problems for mail and train service. Judge James Harvey Chase (1831-1928) suggested the name Cashmere from a popular and sentimental poem, “Lalla Rookh,” by Sir Thomas Moore, extolling the mountainous beauty of the Vale of Kashmir in Himalayan India. The judge had once been a teacher of elocution, famed for his public readings, and no doubt this poem was part of his repertoire.
The new name was officially adopted on July 1, 1904. Chase was a community activist instrumental in the creation of Chelan County and secretary treasurer of the Peshastin Ditch, an important element in the irrigation system. In his old age, the locals referred to him as “Cashmere’s grand old man.” In April 1911, the popular judge gave a “most entertaining and instructive” talk for the Cashmere Woman’s Club recounting the name change.
Cashmere thrived with its new name, the advent of the railroad, and the expansion of irrigation. By 1910 its population had grown to 625 and by 1920 to 1,114. Efforts to irrigate the valley around Cashmere started in about 1889 when a group of pioneers laboriously began digging the Peshastin Ditch, which first delivered water in 1901 to the orchard land on slopes above Cashmere. This ditch eventually became part of the complex Wenatchee Valley system that included the Shotwell Ditch and the much larger Highline Canal. Together they water orchards from Dryden down to Wenatchee.
With all these apples being produced, boxes were needed for shipping. Frederick Schmitten opened a mill and box factory in Brender Canyon in 1902. He also employed loggers in five locations in the woods. In 1910 he built a general lumber mill in Cashmere, providing employment for many years for mill workers and loggers. In 1973, this company was purchased by Pack River, which continued operations until 1977.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.9 square miles (2.4 km²), of which, 0.9 square miles (2.3 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (2.20%) is water. The elevation is 795 feet.
It is situated on the southern bank of the Wenatchee River about midway between its turbulent upper reaches at Leavenworth and its more placid confluence with the Columbia at Wenatchee. The 8,500-foot Mt. Cashmere, called Po-Kum by the Wenatchi Indians, and neighboring peaks of the Cascades are clearly visible to the west. The narrow benches of land surrounding the town are covered with fruit orchards.
Cashmere, WA climate is warm during summer when temperatures tend to be in the 70's and very cold during winter when temperatures tend to be in the 30's.
The warmest month of the year is July with an average maximum temperature of 87.80 degrees Fahrenheit, while the coldest month of the year is January with an average minimum temperature of 23.20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperature variations between night and day tend to be moderate during summer with a difference that can reach 27 degrees Fahrenheit, and fairly limited during winter with an average difference of 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
The annual average precipitation at Cashmere is 9.12 Inches. Rainfall in is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. The wettest month of the year is December with an average rainfall of 1.52 Inches.
Although Cashmere cannot compete commercially with the big box stores of Wenatchee on the east or the tourist draw of Leavenworth, the “Bavarian Village” to the west, the apple industry, Aplets & Cotlets, the museum, and many small businesses help the town to hold its own. Cashmere also has attempted a signature look for its main street: the American Colonial period.
There is a Saint Patrick's Day parade annually.
Cashmere is surrounded by the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountains. The Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area is just a few miles to the West. The Peshastin Pinnacles is a historical climbing area located a few miles from town. Some of America's first technical climbing routes were established here by Fred Beckey and others. The Devil's Gulch mountain bike trail is said to be the premier downhill ride in the state of Washington, and is located just south of town. This ride attracts thousands of mountain bikers from Seattle and elsewhere each year. The Wenatchee river is a popular whitewater destination and runs right through Cashmere. The river provides challenging rapids for rafters and kayakers each spring during runnoff. Several famous rapids occur in the stretch of river that runs through town.
Cashmere Valley Record
Wenatchee has two major hospitals. The Central Washington Hospital (10 miles) and the Wenatchee Valley Hospital. Leavenworth has the Cascade Medical center, about 20 miles west.
The City contracts with the Chelan County Sheriff's Office for police coverage.