Sequim is a city in Clallam County, Washington, United States. As of the 2010 census counted a population of 6,606. Sequim is located along the Dungeness River near the base of the Olympic Mountains. The city has been increasing in population dramatically in recent years due to the influx of retirees from the Puget Sound region and California.
Sequim lies within the rainshadow of the Olympic Mountains and receives on average less than of rain per year—about the same as Los Angeles, California. Yet the city is fairly close to some of the wettest temperate rainforests of the contiguous United States. This climate anomaly is sometimes called the blue hole of Sequim. Fogs and cool breezes from the Juan de Fuca Strait make Sequim's environment more humid than would be expected from the low average annual precipitation. Some places have surprisingly luxuriant forests dominated by Douglas-fir and western red cedar. Black cottonwood, red alder, bigleaf maple, Pacific madrone, lodgepole pine and Garry oak can also be large. Historically, much of the area was an open oak-studded prairie supported by somewhat excessively drained gravelly sandy loam soil, though agriculture and development of the Dungeness valley have changed this ecosystem. Most soils under Sequim have been placed in a series which is named after the city. This "Sequim series" is one of the few Mollisols in western Washington and its high base saturation, a characteristic of the Mollisol order, is attributed to the minimal leaching of bases caused by low annual rainfall.
The city and the surrounding area are particularly known for the commercial cultivation of lavender, supported by the unique climate: it makes Sequim the "Lavender Capital of North America", rivaled only in France. The area is also known for its Dungeness crab.
Sequim is pronounced as one syllable, with the e elided: "skwim". The word comes from the Klallam language. It can be broken down into multiple sounds, that mean "reason, thing or place for", "shoot" and "go to" which translates to "place for going to shoot" referring to the numerous elk and fowl resources in the area. Some also claim it means "calm waters" in S'Klallam, referring to its serene nature.
Fossils discovered in the late 1970s at a dig known as the Manis site, near Sequim, by Carl Gustafson, an archaeologist at Washington State University included a mastodon bone with an embedded bone point, evidencing the presence of hunters in the area about 14,000 years ago. According to Michael R. Waters, an archaeologist at Texas A&M University, this discovery is the first hunting weapon found that dates to the pre-Clovis period.
The S'Klallam tribe had inhabited the region prior to the arrival of the first Europeans. The tribal name, meaning "place for going to shoot" of the village at Washington Harbor, located just to the east of the present-day city, later evolved into the name Sequim. According to other tales Sequim in S'Klallam means "calm waters" to reflect it's serene nature. Both Manuel Quimper and George Vancouver explored the region's coast in the 1790s.
First European settlers
The first European settlers arrived in the Dungeness Valley in the 1850s, settling nearby Dungeness, Washington. While the lands along the river became fertile farmlands, the remainder of the area remained arid prairie, known as "the desert". Irrigation canals first brought water to the prairie in the 1890s, allowing the expansion of farmlands.
Sequim was officially incorporated on October 31, 1913. For many decades small farms, mostly dairy farms, dotted the area around the small town. Near the end of World War I, Sequim became a stop for a railway which passed through from Port Angeles to Port Townsend, built primarily to carry wood products from the forests of the western Olympic Peninsula.
In recent decades, the family farms that once dotted the valley have been parceled off into home sites as the area's excellent climate has drawn many retired people. Recent years have seen a resurgence of organic farming in the area, with Nash Huber of Nash's Organic Produce leading the way, and a weekly farmer's market is held downtown from May to October. By the late 1990s lavender farming began to be popular and has grown into a major part of the local economy as well as a large tourist attraction, culminating every July with the Sequim Lavender Weekend.
Sequim has held its Irrigation Festival every May since 1895. , it is the longest continuously running festival in the state.
The Sequim Lavender Festival and the Sequim Lavender Farm Faire, now expanded to become the Sequim Lavender Weekend, has been held every July since 1996. It includes three days of lavender farm tours, a street festival and Lavender in the Park.