Here's an interesting question to ponder; which of Washington State's 39 counties do you think is its best?

The answer obviously comes down to a long list of variable factors, but one of the great things about living in Evergreen country is that no matter what kind of weather, geography, or cultural demographics you prefer, Washington certainly has a county that will suit your needs and desires for living or visiting.

With that in mind, let's shine the limelight on one of Washington's most rural and least populous counties and give it a little bit of love.

Ferry County was founded on February 21, 1899. Situated east of the Cascade Mountains in the North Central part of the state, it's 2,257 square miles make it over half again the size of Rhode Island and nearly as big as Delaware, but with a population that's only 0.7% of either at just under 7,500 total residents.

Although the county features the only two vehicle/passenger ferries in the state which are not on its west side, its namesake isn't derived from this interesting fact - but rather from the surname of Washington's first-ever governor, Elisha P. Ferry.

As a longtime warrior of Washington's roads and a hyper-impulsive peregrinator myself, I've explored just about every part of Ferry County that's accessible by car over the past 35 years and it's always been one of my favorite places to go for some daytripping.

It's biggest draw for me has always been its two ferries. The more traveled of which forms the continuation of State Route 21 about 15 miles north of Wilbur in Lincoln County across Lake Roosevelt.

The roughly-ten-minute trip is free of charge and offers some breathtaking views of the lake (Columbia River) and surrounding mountains. The vessel that carries traffic today is called the "M/V Sanpoil", but I recall many-a-ride on the old Martha S., which was in service from 1948 to 2013.

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Ferry County's other traghetto, the Gifford-Inchelium Ferry, is also free and traverses the waters of Lake Roosevelt some 54 miles to the northeast. It's operated by the Colville Confederated Tribes and connects the county's second-largest town of Inchelium (pop. 431) to State Route 25 in neighboring Stevens County to the east.

This trip across the lake is completed in about half the time as the Sanpoil's run, but also offers some pleasing vistas of the area's bucolic setting. The ferry itself is much older and conveys a bit more character with its well-patinaed yellow paint job and above deck twin diesel engines that qualify the ride as a few notches below deafening when parked right next to them.

Aside from its water taxis, Ferry County also has plenty more to offer for the ardent adventurer.

Its county seat and largest town of Republic (pop. 992) delivers an everlasting pioneer spirit blended with Arcadian charm. You can rummage through forgotten treasures in its smattering of downtown shops and sample its few local eateries, including the Kettle Crust Bakery and Republic Brewing Company - both of which are receiving high marks from visitors hailing from near and far away.

Although much, much smaller, there are also a handful of other villas to venture through, including Curlew, Keller, Orient, and the Canadian border towns of Danville and Laurier (combined pop. 502).

There's an old blue bridge with a wooden plank deck that'll make you think twice about crossing it which spans the Kettle River in Curlew; a weather station in Orient that's comprised simply of a hanging rock; and the airstrip in Laurier is the only one in the world that occupies real estate on both U.S. and Canadian soil.

Other reasons to love Ferry County are its total absence of traffic signals and chain stores/restaurants (except a few gas stations and an auto parts store); it's affordable housing prices; four glorious weather seasons; and interesting geography.

So if you're looking for a haven to live or visit where you won't find a McDonald's or Wal-Mart, ever miss a green light, or overpay for a studio apartment, then Washington State's Ferry County just might be for you!

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Gallery Credit: Reesha Cosby

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