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Moses Lake
Downtown Moses Lake
Downtown Moses Lake
Location of Moses Lake in Grant County, Washington
Location of Moses Lake in Grant County, Washington
Country United States
State Washington
County Grant
 • Type Council–manager
 • City 20.91 sq mi (54.15 km2)
 • Land 17.95 sq mi (46.49 km2)
 • Water 2.96 sq mi (7.65 km2)
1,070 ft (326 m)
 • City 25,146
 • Density 1,341.76/sq mi (518.05/km2)
 • Metro
99,123 (US: 33th)
Time zone UTC-8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 509
FIPS code 53-47245
GNIS feature ID 1512481

Moses Lake is a city in Grant County, Washington, United States. The population was 25,146 as of the 2020 census. Moses Lake is the largest city in Grant County. The city anchors the Moses Lake Micropolitan area, which includes all of Grant County and is part of the Moses Lake–Othello combined statistical area.

Moses Lake, on which the city lies, is made up of three main arms over 18 miles (29 km) long and up to one mile (1.6 km) wide. It is the largest natural body of fresh water in Grant County and has over 120 miles (190 km) of shoreline covering 6,500 acres (2,600 ha). Before it was dammed in the early 1900s and then incorporated into the Columbia Basin Project, Moses Lake was a smaller shallow lake. To the south of the town is the Potholes Reservoir and the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge that has a number of seep lakes and vast amounts of migratory birds and other fauna natural to the area.


Moses Lake, on which the city lies, is made up of three main arms over 18 miles (29 km) long and up to one mile (1.6 km) wide. It is the largest natural body of fresh water in Grant County and has over 120 miles (190 km) of shoreline covering 6,500 acres (2,600 ha). Before it was dammed in the early 1900s and then incorporated into the Columbia Basin Project, Moses Lake was a smaller, salty, shallow lake. One of its early names was "Salt Lake". To the south of the town is the Potholes Reservoir and the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge that has a number of seep lakes and vast amounts of migratory birds and other fauna natural to the area.

WAMap-Moses Lake


Before the construction of Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River in 1941 and Larson Air Base in 1942 the area was largely barren. Native Americans knew the area as Houaph, which meant willow. Chief Moses was leader of the Sinkiuse tribe from 1859 to 1899, and was forced to negotiate with white settlers who began to settle in the area in the 1880s. Under pressure from the government, Chief Moses traded the Columbia Basin land for a reservation that stretched from Lake Chelan north to the Canada–US border. The government later traded again for what is now the Colville Indian Reservation.

The new settlers named the lake in honor of the chief. The city was originally named Neppel, after a town in Germany where one of the original settlers had lived. The first settlers established fisheries and farms — some of the first exported items were carp, jackrabbits and fruit — but irrigation attempts failed and settlers left at about the same rate as they came. When the town was incorporated and renamed Moses Lake in 1938, the population was estimated at 301 people.

Arrival of the air base in 1942 and irrigation water pumped from Grand Coulee Dam in 1955 offered newcomers a reason and a way to settle in an area that previously had little to offer other than good fishing and a place to water sheep and cattle. Moses Lake was quickly transformed into a hub for a vast region where transportation, agriculture and recreation came together.

The air base was built to train World War II pilots to fly the P-38 Lightning and B-17 Flying Fortress, two planes that were essential to the war effort. The base was closed after the war ended, but reopened in 1948 as a U.S. Air Force base and test area for Boeing’s B-47 Stratojet and B-50 Superfortress.

The B-47 tests led to development of modern commercial jetliners still used today. Fighter jets were stationed there to protect Grand Coulee Dam to the north and the Hanford site to the south. Boeing still uses the airport as a test and evaluation facility for its aircraft. Japan Airlines used the airport as a training area from November 1968 until March 2009. The old air base is now owned by the Port of Moses Lake and is home to Grant County International Airport, Big Bend Community College and several businesses. Farmers, meanwhile, had developed new methods to irrigate water from the lake and from the Columbia River and began planting expansive irrigated acreage. When the Columbia Basin Project was completed in the mid-1950s, farms expanded by thousands of acres, growing potatoes, corn, onions, carrots and sugar beets.

In little more than a decade, Moses Lake’s population grew from 300 to 2,679 in 1950. Today, the population is 21,419 (2014 estimate).


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.75 square miles (48.56 km2), of which, 15.75 square miles (40.79 km2) is land and 3.00 square miles (7.77 km2) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1940 326
1950 2,679 721.8%
1960 11,299 321.8%
1970 10,310 −8.8%
1980 10,629 3.1%
1990 11,235 5.7%
2000 14,953 33.1%
2010 20,366 36.2%
2020 25,146 23.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
2020 Census

2020 census

As of the 2020 census, there were 25,146 people and 8,185 households. The population density was 1,292.7 inhabitants per square mile. The racial makeup of the city was 74.2% White, 1.4% African American, 1.1% Native American, 2% Asian, 0% Pacific Islander, and 6.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 39% of the population.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 20,366 people, 7,600 households, and 4,995 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,293.1 inhabitants per square mile (499.3/km2). There were 8,365 housing units at an average density of 531.1 per square mile (205.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 76.4% White, 1.6% African American, 1.0% Native American, 1.5% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 14.9% from other races, and 4.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 30.1% of the population.

There were 7,600 households, of which 38.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.3% were married couples living together, 13.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 34.3% were non-families. 27.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.66 and the average family size was 3.25.

The median age in the city was 32.1 years. 29.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 27% were from 25 to 44; 21.4% were from 45 to 64; and 12.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.4% male and 50.6% female.


Unlike nearby Seattle, Moses Lake has a dry climate, and is classed as a semi-arid climate. It is warm during summer when temperatures tend to be in the 80's and somewhat cold during winter when temperatures tend to be in the 30's. The warmest month is July with an average maximum temperature of 88.20 °F. The coldest month is January with an average minimum temperature of 21.70 °F.

Temperature variations between night and day are greater during summer (27 °F), and less during winter (14 °F).

The annual average precipitation at Moses Lake is 7.69 inches (195 mm). Although rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, it is not unusual in mid-summer for a month or six weeks to pass without any measurable rainfall. The wettest month is December with an average rainfall of 1.19 inch (30 mm).

Climate data for Moses Lake, Washington
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 61
Average high °F (°C) 34
Average low °F (°C) 22
Record low °F (°C) −22
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.83
Source: The Weather Channel



Moses Lake is bisected by two major highways that bypass the city center: Interstate 90 and State Route 17. State Route 171 and Interstate 90 Business serve the city's downtown, connecting to the two highways.


The Columbia Basin Railroad is headquartered in Moses Lake and operates the city's railroad. It is the busiest shortline railroad in Eastern Washington.

During the 1990s, a high-speed rail line between Seattle and Moses Lake was proposed, primarily to use Grant County International Airport as a satellite airport for the Seattle metropolitan area.

Public transportation

Moses Lake and Grant County are served by the Grant Transit Authority, which runs several bus routes within the city and intercity bus service to nearby Ephrata and other towns.


Larson Air Force Base, five miles from the city of Moses Lake, originally was named Moses Lake Army Air Base. It was activated on 24 November 1942 as a World War II training center. Major Donald A. Larson, for whom the base was later renamed, was from Yakima, Washington.

The Secretary of Defense announced on November 19, 1965, that Larson was to be closed by June of the following year. Larson Air Force Base, since renamed Grant County International Airport, is now a world-class heavy jet training and testing facility used by the Boeing Company, the U.S. military and NASA. The airport had hosted Japan's national carrier, Japan Airlines, from 1968 to 2008 for the training of its pilots, co-pilots, and flight engineers due to lack of runway space at airports in Japan to do touch and goes with jumbo jets. Columbia Pacific Aviation now handles charter passenger service to and from Moses Lake. With 4,700 acres (1,900 ha) and a main runway 13,500 feet (4,110 m) long, it is one of the largest airports in the United States.

Moses Lake is also served by the much smaller municipal airport, which has one runway.


  • Spring Festival (Memorial Day weekend)
  • Moses Lake Water Sports Festival (June) (first held in June 2008)
  • Lion's Field, located Downtown near Frontier Middle School, was remodeled after a voter-approved levy. FieldTurf was installed and the first game held on the new turf was a soccer game between the Moses Lake Chiefs and the Wenatchee Panthers. The Football team opened the completed stadium on 12 September 2008.

Sister cities

Moses Lake has one sister city, according to the Washington State Lt. Governor's list of Washington Sister Cities:

  • Japan Yonezawa, Japan

Moses Lake has a long history with its sister city; Yonezawa, Japan. The two cities have been exchanging students every summer for over 20 years. There is a street named after Yonezawa in Moses Lake and a street named after Moses Lake in Yonezawa.


BMW i3 04 2015 SFO 2901
The BMW i3 electric car uses carbon fiber–reinforced plastic manufactured in Moses Lake.

Moses Lake's historic economic base has been agriculture, but now includes considerable manufacturing and technology. Several companies have moved to the area, including REC Silicon (one of the world's largest manufacturers of polysilicon, used in solar panels). Moses Lake has also attracted some alternative fuel companies, such as Washington Ethanol & Washington Biodiesel.

BMW, in partnership with the SGL Group, began construction in July 2010 on a $100 million carbon-fiber manufacturing plant. The plant was designed to produce 300 tons of carbon fiber per year from a single production building, and began operations in 2011. In 2013, ground was broken for a second 300-ton building, bringing projected production to 600 tons per year. In 2014, a third 300-ton building was started. When the third building is completed, SGL Moses Lake will be the largest producer of carbon fiber in the world. Mitsubishi in 2016 announced that the company would use the port of Moses Lake for its new regional jet (MRJ) FAA flight testing. The testing will be completed by the end of 2018. Other major corporations that have facilities in (or are based in) Moses Lake include:

  • Boeing
  • Dell
  • Sabey
  • Terex/AWP (Genie Industries)
  • Guardian Industries
  • ConAgra Foods
  • Basic American Foods
  • Moses Lake Industries
  • J.R. Simplot Co.
  • International Paper


Moses Lake Public Library
Moses Lake Public Library, showing its distinctive hyperbolic-paraboloid roof


Elementary schools

  • Garden Heights Elementary
  • Groff Elementary
  • Knolls Vista Elementary
  • Lakeview Terrace Elementary
  • Larson Heights Elementary
  • Longview Elementary
  • Midway Elementary
  • North Elementary
  • Peninsula Elementary
  • Park Orchard Elementary
  • Sage Point Elementary

Middle schools

  • Frontier Middle School
  • Chief Moses Middle School
  • Endeavor Middle School (was Columbia Basin Secondary School)

Private schools

  • AIM School and Gymnastics (Kindergarten and 1st Grade)
  • Glenn J. Kimber Academy
  • Moses Lake Christian Academy
  • Crest View Christian School
  • Covenant Christian School

High schools

  • Moses Lake High School
  • Vanguard Academy
  • Digital Learning Center
  • Columbia Basin Technical Skills Center (CBTech)

Learning centers

  • Family Services of Grant County / Head Start
  • Skillsource
  • Columbia Basin Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center

The Japanese Supplementary School of Moses Lake (モーゼスレイク補習授業校 Mōzesu Reiku Hoshū Jugyō Kō), a weekend Japanese educational program, previously operated in Moses Lake.


  • Big Bend Community College

Notable people

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