Ellensburg is a city in and county seat of Kittitas County, Washington, United States. The population was 20,977 in a July 2018 census estimate. Located just east of the Cascade Range on Interstate 90, Ellensburg is the home of Central Washington University (CWU).
The surrounding Kittitas Valley is internationally known for the timothy hay that it produces. There are several local hay brokering and processing operations that ship to Pacific Rim countries. Downtown Ellensburg has many historic buildings, many of which were constructed in the late 19th century. This is a legacy of its bid to be the state capital, which it lost to Olympia. CWU being placed there is another product of that legacy. The state legislature selected Ellensburg as the location for the then Normal School as a consolation prize.
Ellensburg was officially incorporated on November 26, 1883. John Alden Shoudy came to the Kittitas Valley in 1871, and purchased a small trading post from Andrew Jackson "A.J." Splawn, called "Robber's Roost." Robber's Roost was the first business in the valley, other than the early trading that occurred among Native Americans, cattle drivers, trappers, and miners.