There are numerous public parks throughout the Tri-Cities that offer a unique getaway from the surrounding urban area. From Howard Amon Park paralleling the Columbia River in Richland, to the sprawling Chiawana Park across the bridge in Pasco; Sanctuaries of greenery serve an important purpose as commons for locals. They provide more than enough space to stretch out and relax. This last aspect is imperative in the midst of COVID-19, as we continue to practice social distancing in public spaces. As summer enters into full swing, more and more Tri-Citians will be heading outdoors to take advantage of the warming weather. Be it on bike paths, hiking trails, riverfront beaches, or all of the above.
Tower in the Park
Perhaps the most historically intriguing park in the area is the USS Triton Submarine Memorial Park in North Richland. Home to the retired conning tower and sail structure of the nuclear-powered submarine after which it is named, the park features sweeping views of the Columbia River and an informative display on the history of the vessel. She was a first generation U.S. nuclear-powered submarine, and was made famous after becoming the first vessel to circumnavigate the Earth entirely while submerged in 1960.
After the vessel’s retirement, The Port of Benton encased Triton‘s conning tower in concrete on October 23, 2009. This established the USS Triton Submarine Memorial Park as the newest addition to Richland’s Riverfront Trail, which would connect to the Sacagawea Heritage Trail as part of a network of public spaces. Both trails are worth the walk today as the weather continues to warm up going into the summer months.
In December of 2009, the final pieces of her sail were welded together at the site, and the park was nearing completion. After years of welding and landscaping were finalized, the park was formally dedicated on November 10, 2011, (the 52nd anniversary of the commissioning of the USS Triton) and opened to the public. An informational placard in the park today states that the goal of its placement and retirement in this location was “to establish a permanent park in north Richland in recognition of all the decommissioned reactor cores off-loaded at the Port’s barge slip, transported and stored at the Hanford Site.” To this day, the Triton stands as a monument to the state of Washington’s contribution to the nuclear history of the United States.
Whether you stop by the park for a family picnic, a rest along a bike ride/run, or to glance back in history at one of the most impressive vessels of her time, USS Triton Park is a must-see. It is worth traveling out of the way to read about Eastern Washington’s unique history, and to learn about the science and technology that put the Tri-Cities on the map in the first place.