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About Rainier

Rainier is a town in Thurston County, Washington, United States. The population was 1,492 at the 2000 census.


In 1941, Rainier was described as "...served by the Northern Pacific and the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroads, is the social center for farmers and loggers of the vicinity, although its closed mills and vacant houses mark it as a ghost lumber town." (Washington - A Guide to the Evergreen State, WPA American Guide Series, Washington State Historical Society, 1941). Rainier's 1940 population was 500. Rainier was officially incorporated on October 23, 1947.

Named for its view of Mt. Rainier, Rainier is situated amidst the ‘ten al quelth’ prairies which is the Indian word meaning “the best yet.” The area was first settled by Albert and Maria Gehrke who homesteaded there in 1890. Six years later, Albert and his two brothers, Theodore and Paul, built the community’s first school and church, which today is a state historic landmark. A post office followed in 1890 when residents grew tired of mail being delivered by “toss off and catch” since the trains did not stop in Rainier.

Lumbering brought prosperity to the town and its first lumber company, the Bob White Lumber Company, opened in 1906. Other lumber companies followed, including companies such as Deschutes, Gruber and Docherty, and Fir Tree. A series of fires in the Rainier area in the late 1920s and early 1930s destroyed several of these mill operations (in addition to many of its town buildings), and town residents sought work at Weyerhaeuser Lumber at Vail.


Rainier is located at 46°53′27″N 122°41′23″W / 46.890938°N 122.689619°W / 46.890938; -122.689619 (46.890938, -122.689619).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 1.6 square miles (4.2 km2), all of it land.


Rainier Senior High School includes 413 students, grades 9-12. It is located at 308 2nd Street W.

Rainier Middle School includes 155 students, grades 6-8.

Rainier Elementary School includes 436 students, grades K-5.

Rainier School District


As of the census of 2000, there were 1,492 people, 530 households, and 410 families residing in the town. The population density was 922.8 people per square mile (355.6/km2). There were 551 housing units at an average density of 340.8/sq mi (131.3/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 92.56% White, 0.54% African American, 1.81% Native American, 0.74% Asian, 0.27% Pacific Islander, 0.80% from other races, and 3.28% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.89% of the population.

There were 530 households out of which 40.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.9% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.5% were non-families. 17.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.82 and the average family size was 3.17.

In the town the population was spread out with 30.6% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 32.1% from 25 to 44, 21.8% from 45 to 64, and 8.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 98.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.5 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $42,955, and the median income for a family was $44,226. Males had a median income of $34,609 versus $27,375 for females. The per capita income for the town was $16,636. About 6.6% of families and 6.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.8% of those under age 18 and 6.8% of those age 65 or over.

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