Located in the heart of Washington State, Kittitas County is a diverse and beautiful landscape, from the mountains, lakes, and forests in the west to the semiarid shrub-steppe with agricultural lands leading to the Columbia River in the east. When the settlers of Ellensburg sought to break away from Yakima County and establish their own county, they wanted to gain autonomy as well as increase the chances of the county seat, Ellensburg, becoming the state capital. The Washington Territorial Legislature established Kittitas County in 1883, and just a few years later, the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad quickly aided in the settling of the county. Soon, coal was discovered in northwestern Kittitas County, which provided a boom in settlement and the expansion of the upper county population. Today, Interstate 90, which follows an old Native American trail, brings people from the Seattle area into Kittitas County, much as the trial has for millennia.