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Moses Lake, Washington

Moses Lake, Washington
Aerial view of Moses Lake & Potholes Reservoir
Aerial view of Moses Lake & Potholes Reservoir
Grant County, Washington
Grant County, Washington
Country United States
State Washington
County Grant
 • City 18.75 sq mi (48.56 km2)
 • Land 15.75 sq mi (40.79 km2)
 • Water 3.00 sq mi (7.77 km2)
Elevation 1,070 ft (326 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • City 20,366
 • Estimate (2014)[3] 21,713
 • Density 1,293.1/sq mi (499.3/km2)
 • Metro 93,147
Time zone Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP code 98837
Area code(s) 509
FIPS code 53-47245
GNIS feature ID 1512481[4]
Moses Lake War Memorial

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.


  • Background 1
  • History 2
  • Larson Air Force Base/Grant County Airport 3
  • Education 4
    • Schools 4.1
      • Elementary schools 4.1.1
      • Middle schools 4.1.2
      • Private schools 4.1.3
      • High schools 4.1.4
      • Learning centers 4.1.5
      • Colleges 4.1.6
  • Geography 5
  • Demographics 6
    • 2010 census 6.1
    • 2000 census 6.2
  • Climate 7
  • Economy 8
    • Local media 8.1
  • Activities 9
  • Sister cities 10
  • Notable people 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13


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 (190 km) of shoreline covering 6,500 acres (2,600 ha). 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".[5] To the south of the town is the Potholes Wildlife reservation that has a number of seep lakes and vast amounts of migratory birds and other fauna natural to the area.


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 Canadian 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.

In little more than a decade, Moses Lake’s population grew from 300 to 2,679 in 1950. Today, the population is 21,419 (2014 estimate).

Larson Air Force Base/Grant County Airport

Larson AFB, 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.[6] Columbia Pacific Aviation now handles charter passenger service to and from Moses Lake.[7]

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 Public Library, showing its distinctive hyperbolic-paraboloid roof



Elementary schools

  • Midway Learning Center
  • Discover Elementary
  • Lakeview Elementary
  • Garden Heights Elementary
  • Larson Heights Elementary
  • North Elementary
  • Peninsula Elementary
  • Knolls Vista Elementary
  • Longview Elementary
  • Sage Point Elementary
  • Park Orchard Elementary

Middle schools

  • Frontier Middle School
  • Chief Moses Middle School
  • Endeavor Middle School

Private schools

  • AIM School and Gymnastics (Kindergarten and 1st Grade)
  • Glenn J. Kimber Academy
  • Moses Lake Christian Academy
  • Crest View Christian School

High schools

Learning centers

  • Family Services of Grant County / Head Start
  • Skillsource
  • Columbia Basin Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center
  • Columbia Basin Technical Skill Center

The Japanese Supplementary School of Moses Lake (モーゼスレイク補習授業校 Mōzesu Reiku Hoshū Jugyō Kō), a weekend Japanese educational program, was previously operating in Moses Lake.[8]



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.[1]


2010 census

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 20,366 people, 7,600 households, and 4,995 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,293.1 inhabitants per square mile (499.3/km2). There were 8,365 housing units at an average density of 531.1 per square mile (205.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 76.4% White, 1.6% African American, 1.0% Native American, 1.5% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 14.9% from other races, and 4.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 30.1% of the population.

There were 7,600 households of which 38.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.3% were married couples living together, 13.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 34.3% were non-families. 27.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.66 and the average family size was 3.25.

The median age in the city was 32.1 years. 29.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 27% were from 25 to 44; 21.4% were from 45 to 64; and 12.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.4% male and 50.6% female.

2000 census

As of the census of 2000, there were 14,953 people, 5,642 households, and 3,740 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,468.6 people per square mile (567.1/km²). There were 6,263 housing units at an average density of 615.1 per square mile (237.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 77.16% White, 1.69% African American, 1.02% Native American, 1.43% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 15.44% from other races, and 3.20% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 25.41% of the population.

There were 5,642 households out of which 35.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.3% were married couples living together, 11.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.7% were non-families. 27.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.20.

In the city the population was spread out with 28.8% under the age of 18, 10.6% from 18 to 24, 28.0% from 25 to 44, 19.0% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 96.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $36,467, and the median income for a family was $42,096. Males had a median income of $34,945 versus $25,193 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,644. About 11.0% of families and 15.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.7% of those under age 18 and 10.5% of those age 65 or over.


Unlike nearby Seattle, 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.[11] The wettest month is December with an average rainfall of 1.19 inch (30 mm).

Climate data for Moses Lake, Washington
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 61
Average high °F (°C) 34
Average low °F (°C) 22
Record low °F (°C) −22
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.83
Source: The Weather Channel[12]


The BMW i3 electric car uses carbon fiber–reinforced plastic manufactured in Moses Lake

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. Other major corporations that have facilities in (or are based in) Moses Lake include:

Local media


  • Spring Festival (Memorial Day weekend)
  • Moses Lake Water Sports Festival (June) (first held in June 2008)
  • Five Suns Bluegrass Festival (first weekend in Aug.)
  • Lion's Field, located Downtown near Frontier Middle School, was remodeled after a voter-approved levy. FieldTurf was installed and the first game held on the new turf was a soccer game between the Moses Lake Chiefs and the Wenatchee Panthers. The Football team opened the completed stadium on 12 September 2008.

Sister cities

Moses Lake has one sister city, according to the Washington State Lt. Governor's list of Washington Sister Cities:

  • Yonezawa, Japan

Moses Lake has a long history with its sister city; Yonezawa, Japan. The two cities have been exchanging students every summer for over 20 years. There is a street named after Yonezawa in Moses Lake and a street named after Moses Lake in Yonezawa.

Notable people

The following people were born in Moses Lake or lived there:


  1. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010".  
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder".  
  3. ^ a b "Population Estimates".  
  4. ^ "Moses Lake".  
  5. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Moses Lake, USGS, GNIS
  6. ^ Grant County Int'l Airport. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
  7. ^ Columbia Pacific Aviation. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
  8. ^ "北米の補習授業校一覧" (Archive). MEXT. January 2, 2003. Retrieved on April 6, 2015. Moses Lake: "Japanese Supplementary School of Moses Lake c/o JAL Building 3401,6955 22nd Ave.,Moses Lake,WA98837,U.S.A."
  9. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  10. ^  
  11. ^ Moses Lake Chamber of Commerce Archived March 6, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "The Weather Channel". 2009. Retrieved 30 August 2009. 
  13. ^ SEVERO, RICHARD (1 December 2007). "Evel Knievel, 69, Daredevil on a Motorcycle, Dies". New York Times. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  14. ^ "Sixth Ward Alderman, Bob Runnels, Sr. - City Council". North Chicago: The New North Shore. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  15. ^ "Caitlynn Lawson". FOX Broadcasting Company. Archived from the original on 2012-10-01. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  • "Bibliography - Moses Lake". Center for Columbia River History. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 

External links

  • City of Moses Lake
  • Columbia Basin Herald newspaper
  • - Mobile guide to Moses Lake Washington
  • "Moses Lake Community History Exhibit". Center for Columbia River History. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
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