Richland is located in the southeastern corner of Washington State, at the confluence of the Yakima and the Columbia Rivers. Richland is one of the Tri-Cities, along with the neighboring cities of Pasco and Kennewick and is home to the Hanford nuclear site.
Richland was a small farm town until the U.S. Army purchased it and the neighboring towns of White Bluffs and Hanford just upriver. The residents of the towns were evicted and the army turned Richland into a bedroom community for the workers on its Manhattan Project facility at the Hanford Engineering Works north of the city. The population increased from 300 in mid 1943 to 25,000 two years later, at the end of World War II in August 1945.
After the war many moved away but a post-WW II expansion began in 1950 as a result of the war in Korea and the Cold War with Russia. Richland’s population grew to 27,000 people by 1952. With the close of the Cold War, the last production reactor was shut down in 1987 and the area began the long process of environmental cleanup of the nuclear byproducts. Many Richland and Tri-City residents are employed at the Hanford site in the environmental cleanup mission.