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Moses Lake is a city in Grant County, Washington, United States. The population was 20,366 as of the 2010 census. Moses Lake is the largest city in Grant County. The city anchors the Moses Lake Micropolitan area, which includes all of Grant County, and is part of the Moses Lake-Othello combined statistical area. The city is built around Moses Lake, the lake.

History Edit

Before the construction of Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River in 1941 and Larson Air Base in 1942 the area was largely barren. Native Americans knew the area as Houaph, which meant willow. Chief Moses was leader of the Sinkiuse tribe from 1859 to 1899, and was forced to negotiate with white settlers who began to settle in the area in the 1880s. Under pressure from the government, Chief Moses traded the Columbia Basin land for a reservation that stretched from Lake Chelan north to the Canada–US border. The government later traded again for what is now the Colville Indian Reservation.

The new settlers named the lake in honor of the chief. The city was originally named Neppel, after a town in Germany where one of the original settlers had lived. The first settlers established fisheries and farms — some of the first exported items were carp, jackrabbits and fruit — but irrigation attempts failed and settlers left at about the same rate as they came. When the town was incorporated and renamed Moses Lake in 1938, the population was estimated at 301 people.

Arrival of the air base in 1942 and irrigation water pumped from Grand Coulee Dam in 1955 offered newcomers a reason and a way to settle in an area that previously had little to offer other than good fishing and a place to water sheep and cattle. Moses Lake was quickly transformed into a hub for a vast region where transportation, agriculture and recreation came together.

The air base was built to train World War II pilots to fly the P-38 Lightning and B-17 Flying Fortress, two planes that were essential to the war effort. The base was closed after the war ended, but reopened in 1948 as a U.S. Air Force base and test area for Boeing’s B-47 Stratojet and B-50 Superfortress.

The B-47 tests led to development of modern commercial jetliners still used today. Fighter jets were stationed there to protect Grand Coulee Dam to the north and the Hanford site to the south. Boeing still uses the airport as a test and evaluation facility for its aircraft. Japan Airlines used the airport as a training area from November 1968 until March 2009. The old air base is now owned by the Port of Moses Lake and is home to Grant County International Airport, Big Bend Community College and several businesses. Farmers, meanwhile, had developed new methods to irrigate water from the lake and from the Columbia River and began planting expansive irrigated acreage. When the Columbia Basin Project was completed in the mid-1950s, farms expanded by thousands of acres, growing potatoes, corn, onions, carrots and sugar beets.

During the 1990s, a high-speed rail line between Seattle and Moses Lake was proposed, primarily to use Grant County International Airport as a satellite airport for the Seattle metropolitan area. The plan fell through and was never started.

In little more than a decade, Moses Lake’s population grew from 300 to 2,679 in 1950. As of 2014, the population was 21,419.

Geography Edit

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.75 square miles (48.56 km2), of which, 15.75 square miles (40.79 km2) is land and 3.00 square miles (7.77 km2) is water. The city sits at an elevation of 1,070 feet above sea level.

To the south of the city is the Potholes Reservoir and the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge that has a number of seep lakes and vast amounts of migratory birds and other fauna natural to the area.

Climate Edit

Moses Lake has a dry climate, and is classed as a semi-arid climate. It is warm during summer when temperatures tend to be in the 80's and somewhat cold during winter when temperatures tend to be in the 30's. The warmest month is July with an average maximum temperature of 88.20 °F. The coldest month is January with an average minimum temperature of 21.70 °F.

Temperature variations between night and day are greater during summer (27 °F), and less during winter (14 °F).

The annual average precipitation at Moses Lake is 7.69 inches (195 mm). Although rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, it is not unusual in mid-summer for a month or six weeks to pass without any measurable rainfall. The wettest month is December with an average rainfall of 1.19 inch (30 mm).

The Lake Edit

Moses Lake, on which the city lies, is made up of three main arms over 18 miles (29 km) long and up to one mile (1.6 km) wide. It is the largest natural body of fresh water in Grant County and has over 120 miles of shoreline covering 6,500 acres. Before it was dammed in the early 1900s and then incorporated into the Columbia Basin Project, Moses Lake was a smaller, salty, shallow lake. One of its early names was "Salt Lake". 

Economy Edit

Moses Lake's historic economic base has been agriculture, but now includes considerable manufacturing and technology. Several companies have moved to the area, including REC Silicon (one of the world’s largest manufacturers of polysilicon, used in solar panels). Moses Lake has also attracted some alternative fuel companies, such as Washington Ethanol & Washington Biodiesel.

BMW, in partnership with the SGL Group, began construction in July 2010 on a $100 million carbon-fiber manufacturing plant. The plant was designed to produce 300 tons of carbon fiber per year from a single production building, and began operations in 2011. In 2013, ground was broken for a second 300-ton building, bringing projected production to 600 tons per year. In 2014, a third 300-ton building was started. When the third building is completed, SGL Moses Lake will be the largest producer of carbon fiber in the world.

Transportation Edit

Road Edit

Moses Lake is bisected by two major highways that bypass the city center: Interstate 90 and State Route 17. State Route 171 and Interstate 90 Business serve the city's downtown, connecting to the two highways.

Public Transportation Edit

Moses Lake and Grant County are served by the Grant Transit Authority, which runs several bus routes within the city and intercity bus service to nearby Ephrata and other towns.

Rail Edit

The Columbia Basin Railroad is headquartered in Moses Lake and operates the city's railroad. It is the busiest shortline railroad in Eastern Washington.[10]

During the 1990s, a high-speed rail line between Seattle and Moses Lake was proposed, primarily to use Grant County International Airport as a satellite airport for the Seattle metropolitan area.

Airport Edit

Larson Air Force Base, five miles from the city of Moses Lake, Washington, originally was named Moses Lake Army Air Base. It was activated on 24 November 1942 as a World War II training center. Major Donald A. Larson, for whom the base was later renamed, was from Yakima, Washington.

The Secretary of Defense announced on 19 November 1965 that Larson was to be closed by June of the following year. Larson Air Force Base, since renamed Grant County International Airport, is now a world-class heavy jet training and testing facility used by the Boeing Company, the U.S. Military and NASA. Columbia Pacific Aviation now handles charter passenger service to and from Moses Lake. With 4,700 acres (1,900 ha) and a main runway 13,500 feet (4,110 m) long, it is one of the largest airports in the United States.

Moses Lake also is also served by a much smaller airport with one runway.

Media Edit

The city and county's largest newspaper is the Columbia Basin Herald, which is headquartered in Moses Lake. It serves the high Columbia Basin Plateau area of Central Washington. The Columbia Basin Herald is published Monday through Friday and serves Grant and Adams counties in Central Washington. Some of the communities they serve are Moses Lake, Ephrata, Othello, Quincy, Warden, Soap Lake, Coulee City, Ritzville, Lind and Crescent Bar.

In the 2000s, the community developed a local television news channel called iFiber One News, which produces nightly news broadcasts for the city and surrounding area. They are owned by iFiber Communications who provides internet and television service to the area.

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