Washington already has a state bird, bug, gem and endemic mammal, but we've long been without an official state rock.
Rochester Sen. Dan Swecker wants to change that by throwing a mantle of distinction over the stately sandstone that has been quarried from Tenino for more than a century.
Senate Bill 5561, which Swecker introduced Monday, would “designate the Tenino sandstone as the official rock of the state in recognition of its historic and contemporary significance for the state of Washington,” according to a summary at washingtonvotes.org.
Tenino once was a quarry town, with three working sandstone operations. The former Hercules Quarry now is the town’s swimming hole. The town’s museum, a former railroad depot near the pool, is made from sandstone.
Tenino sandstone, discovered in 1870, has been quarried since 1889. The stone was used to help build the east wing of the state Capitol, the original main branch of the Seattle public library and buildings in San Francisco.
The rock was known for its excellent carving qualities and a fine grain that hardens with time.
The town’s sandstone still is being quarried by the Issaquah-based Marenakos Rock Center.
Swecker’s sandstone bill has been referred to the Senate Government Operations, Tribal Relations and Elections Committee. Swecker is the ranking Republican member of that committee.
The sandstone bill is joined in the Legislature by proposals by Rep. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, to make coffee the official state beverage, and an effort by Rep. Jim McCune, R-Graham, to make English the official state language.