It's hard to imagine, but you are about to enter a fertile valley. Named for the Indians who lived here time immemorial, the Kittitas Valley was the destination of many American settlers who came to the Washington Territory in the 1860s. Rich, natural grasslands attracted Americans, who built prosperous farms and ranches. Traditional uses, even the people themselves, were eventually displaced.
Among the pioneer families were the Olmsteads from Illinois. Samuel, Sarah, and their three children rode on horseback over Snoqualmie Pass and into the sparsely settled valley in 1875. They built a log cabin next to Altapes Creek and began the farm that would support the family for a century.
The arrival of the railroad in 1880s meant connections to more distant markets. In response to this new opportunity, the Olmsteads switched to dairy farming.
In 1968, the Olmstead descendants donated the farm to the state. Today, Olmstead Place State Park, with its numerous buildings and pieces of horse-drawn farm, illustrates an earlier way of life on the thousands of family farms east of the Cascades.