Montesano, Washington

Montesano is a city in Grays Harbor County, Washington, United States. The population was 3,312 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Grays Harbor County.

Town Name

The history of the town of Montesano reports of a local legend that says the settler Marci Estalilla, who owned the farm which served as the mail stop, was a very religious woman who wanted to name the town Mount Zion. Following the custom for Washington place names, the name of the town ought to have been Wynoochee, after the river which flows into the Chehalis nearby. As the story goes, other local residents, detesting the religious name, convinced the postmistress that the more exotic-sounding Spanish name Monte Sano ("Mount Healthy") was equivalent. (The Spanish name for Mount Zion is, in fact, Monte Sion.) It is worth noting, incidentally, that Spanish toponyms — while much less common than English or indigenous ones — were not unheard-of in early Washington (cf. Strait of Juan de Fuca or San Juan Islands).

Famous residents

All of the original members of the heavy metal/punk rock band The Melvins went to high school here, including Buzz Osborne. The band was named after Pete "Melvin" Loman, a grocery clerk at the local ThriftWay, where Osborne served as a clerk. Loman was the most-hated fellow employee and the band felt it to be an appropriately ridiculous name.

Kurt Cobain, of the rock band Nirvana, lived in and attended junior high school in Montesano. Cobain also played several years of Little League Baseball in Montesano.

Jerry Lambert, an actor, best known for his work on the critically acclaimed (but short lived) ABC comedy sitcom, Sons & Daughters; he is also prominently featured on commercials for GEICO, Holiday Inn, and Cheese Nips. Lambert was raised in Montesano, and graduated from Montesano High School in 1975. Lambert participated in Football, Golf, Tennis, Wrestling, and Cross Country while at MHS. Lambert was on the MHS Cross Country team that won the '1A' State Title in 1974-'75 (a team that was anchored by Junior, and Montesano Legend, Keith Martin). Among the T.V. shows Lambert has briefly appeared on: Everybody Loves Raymond (4 episodes), That '70s Show, Malcolm In the Middle, 7th Heaven, 3rd Rock From the Sun, and Baywatch.


Montesano is located at (46.985865, -123.597726). It is on the north slope of the Chehalis River valley, near the confluence of the Wynoochee River and Chehalis River. The town is bordered on the North and west by Lake Sylvia and Sylvia Creek.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.4 square miles (27.0 km²), of which, 10.3 square miles (26.8 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km²) of it (0.86%) is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 3,312 people, 1,326 households, and 879 families residing in the city. The population density was 320.4 people per square mile (123.7/km²). There were 1,408 housing units at an average density of 136.2/sq mi (52.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.99% White, 0.12% African American, 1.87% Native American, 0.48% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.18% from other races, and 2.29% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.84% of the population.

There were 1,326 households out of which 30.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.4% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.7% were non-families. 28.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.92.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.8% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 23.6% from 45 to 64, and 15.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 99.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $40,204, and the median income for a family was $42,344. Males had a median income of $41,500 versus $30,096 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,467. About 9.3% of families and 11.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.4% of those under age 18 and 10.7% of those age 65 or over.


A prominent feature of the town is the 1911 Grays Harbor County Courthouse. This is a three-story structure with a domed tower. The interior features murals of local history. Not to be missed is the dent in the front door made by the Sheriff as he fired at a fleeing felon.

Bordering along the northern edge of the town is Lake Sylvia State Park. The park is located in dense boreal forest, almost temperate rain forest. The park offers swimming, hiking, camping, fishing, and boating, and was built around an old lumber mill pond, which was briefly the converted to power the town's first electrical generation plant. The park is home to a mixed flock of feral and wild mallard ducks, Canadian geese, a family of ospreys, as well as Bald Eagles. There is also a small group of beavers living along Sylvia Creek, which flows through the lake.

The road north from Montesano, following the course of the Wynoochee River, is the access way to the southern quarter of the Olympic National Park.


External links

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