Benton City's incorporation is certified on July 14, 1945.

  • By Kate Kershner
  • Posted 5/03/2013
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 10388

On July 14, 1945, Washington's Secretary of State officially certifies the incorporation of Benton City. Residents had voted, 76 to 32, in favor of incorporation in an election held two weeks earlier. Although the community of roughly 380 residents has not reached its original promise as an important railway hub, it incorporates as a town of the fourth class. As agriculture becomes more vital in the area, the region will become known for vineyards and wineries, and the city will grow. In 2010, the population will number 3,038.

Benton City was platted in 1909 and soon became a rail stop for the Oregon-Washington Railroad and Navigation Company. Founders foresaw the fledging community becoming a main railroad hub for the line. The fact that it did not, and was not even incorporated at the time, did not stop community leaders from gunning (unsuccessfully), in 1912 and again in 1922, to make it the county seat of Benton County. Only after agriculture and farming, aided by growing irrigation projects, took hold in the region did Benton City residents seek to incorporate. On March 26, 1945, an official Petition of Incorporation signed by more than 60 qualified electors was filed.

Secretary of State Belle Reeves (1871-1948) certified the incorporation on July 14, 1945, two weeks after voters approved it on June 30. In that election voters also filled several positions in the new government. The first Benton City Council members were Oral Montgomery, Harry Kendall, Archie Borden, Don St. Marie, and Harry Troupe. E. E. Storm was elected Treasurer, and the first budget was $1,418. Oscar Hanson, who was a barber in town, was elected the first mayor of Benton City; he served until 1954.


Sources: "Voters Decide to Incorporate," The Spokesman-Review, July 3, 1945, p. 9; History of Benton City, Washington, 1853-1959 (Benton City: Community Development Program History Committee, 1959); "History," City of Benton City website accessed April 25, 2013 (http://www.ci.benton-city.wa.us/history.htm); "Prosser Opposed to Building Courthouse," The Seattle Times, September 22, 1922, p. 17; E. M. Darwin, "County Seat Removal Stirs Up Bentonites," Ibid., October 24, 1912, p. 12; Drew Foster, "Benton City Using Wine to Capitalize on Future Tourism," Wine Press Northwest website accessed April 2013 (http://pubsys.winepressnw.com/2009/05/11/2807/benton-city-using-to-wine-to-capitalize.html); "2010 Census," website accessed April 25, 2013 (http://factfinder2.census.gov); "Articles of Incorporation," approved July 2, 1945, Town of Benton City, File No. 1, Records of the Secretary of State, Washington State Archives, Olympia, Washington.

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