Washington is known for its uniqueness in landscape, culture, and a few buildings scattered in between. From historic skyscrapers like the Smith Tower to unlikely relics like Hat & Boots, Seattle certainly has some key players. However, few beat the unsuspecting history and backstory of the Zillah Teapot aka the Teapot Dome Historical Site.
Ready for a little blast from the past? If Teapot Dome sounds familiar it’s because it was a political corruption affair that happened in the US in the 1920s. Basically, The United States government had set aside oil-rich lands called Teapot Dome in Wyoming and Elk Hills in California for use by the Navy. However, Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall secretly leased these lands to private oil companies in exchange for personal bribes.
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This scandal became a symbol of government corruption. Fall was later convicted of bribery, becoming the first U.S. cabinet member to go to prison. Pre Watergate, it was one of the biggest American political scandals.
So why is there a Teapot Dome monument in Washington State? Simply put, because it’s a free country and because Jack Ainsworth was inspired by the scandal in 1922. He crafted it by hand inspired by the Harding Administrations’ wrongdoings and then proceeded to sell gas from it.
Next door was Old Dalton Trading Co. General Country Store which was built by Jack Ainsworths’ father in 1902. It passed through different owners and sat in its original location until 1978 when it was hit by a car just days before it was set to be moved.
Luckily it was rebuilt and has been moved several times since. These days it has found its permanent home at 117 First Avenue, Zillah, Washington. The Zillah Teapot is considered endangered and is well worth visiting this summer if you’re up for the drive.