Last Tuesday, November 11, was the 125th anniversary of Washington statehood. Part of the legacy of gaining recognition as a state in 1889 is the three million acres of trust lands that the federal government transferred to Washington state. It’s a gift that continues to give back to Washington residents every day.
Providing gifts of land to support institutions dates to the Middle Ages in Europe. In the United States, as far back as 1785, Section 16 of each township was reserved as a “school section” to provide funding and a central location for schools, so no child would have to travel too far to school. (In the U.S. Public Land Survey System, survey townships are one-mile square; 36 sections equal one township.)
As new states joined the union, Congress provided land grants to each. The federal Enabling Act of 1889 granted Washington state lands in Section 16 and 36 of most townships. (more…)