The Most Racist City in Washington: How Fall City Earned This Shameful Title


Washington state is recognized for its progressive beliefs and varied culture, but it also has a troubled history of racism and discrimination. According to a recent study conducted by Saturday Night Science, a Virginia Commonwealth University research initiative, Fall City, a tiny community in King County, is Washington’s most historically racist city.

How the Research Examined Racism

The study relied on data from the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), a white supremacist hate group operating in the United States since the 1860s. The KKK has conducted three major rounds of activity, each targeting a different group of people, including African Americans, immigrants, Catholics, Jews, and civil rights advocates.

The study identified the sites of KKK groups, or Klaverns, in each state from 1915 to 1940, during the second wave of the KKK. The research then divided the number of Klaverns by the current population of each city or county to calculate historical racism.

Why is Fall City the Most Racist City in Washington?

According to the survey, Fall City has the greatest number of Klaverns per capita in Washington, at 0.0005. This suggests that for every 2,000 people living in Fall City now, there was once a Klavern. Fall City has two Klaverns, the same as Bellingham, the city with the most in absolute terms. However, Bellingham has a significantly greater population than Fall City, hence its Klaverns per capita ratio is lower.

Fall City is a rural hamlet established in the 1850s by settlers from the Midwest and South. The community was named after a waterfall on the Snoqualmie River that was a famous fishing location among the Native Americans who lived there. Conflicts and violence between settlers and indigenous, as well as between diverse groups of immigrants including Germans, Scandinavians, and Italians, have shaped the town’s history.

Fall City’s closeness to Seattle, Washington’s largest and most diverse city, may have influenced its discriminatory beliefs. The study discovered that the KKK was more active in regions near metropolitan centers, where they saw a danger from the inflow of people of color and diverse religions. The KKK also attacked labor unions, socialists, and feminists, who were more common in urban areas.

How Does Fall City Compare to Other Cities in Washington?

The analysis identified the top ten historically racist areas in Washington based on the number of Klaverns per capita. Here’s the list, along with the number of Klaverns and the current population:

  • Fall City: 0.0005 Klaverns per capita, 2 Klaverns, 4,000 residents
  • Colfax: 0.0004 Klaverns per capita; 1 Klavern, 2,500 people
  • Raymond: 0.0003 Klaverns per capita, one Klavern, 3,000 people
  • Buckley: 0.0003 Klaverns per capita; 1 Klavern, 3,500 people
  • Woodland: 0.0003 Klaverns per capita, one Klavern, 3,500 people
  • Kelso: 0.0002 Klaverns per capita, 2 Klaverns, 12,000 inhabitants
  • Centralia: 0.0002 Klaverns per capita, 2 Klaverns, 17,000 inhabitants
  • Walla Walla: 0.0002 Klaverns per capita, 2 Klaverns, 33,000 inhabitants
  • Mount Vernon: 0.0002 Klaverns per capita, 2 Klaverns, 35,000 residents
  • Bellingham: 0.0001 Klaverns per capita, 2 Klaverns, 90,000 people

The research also examined racial segregation trends in Washington’s largest cities, including Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Everett, Vancouver, and the Tri-Cities. The maps depict how different racial groups have been dispersed in cities from 1940 to 2020, using census tract data. The maps show that certain cities have grown more diverse and integrated over time, while others have stayed or even gotten more separated.


Fall City, Washington, has been designated as the state’s most historically racist city based on the density of Ku Klux Klan (KKK) chapters per capita between 1915 and 1940. Fall City’s history has been defined by conflicts between settlers, indigenous peoples, and numerous immigration groups. The study attempts to offer insight into Washington’s historical racial dynamics by pinpointing places with higher KKK activity throughout the chosen time.

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