Jenkins Prairie was the original name for the area that is today known as Covington. Between 1899 and 1900, the Northern Pacific Railway improved the company’s primary east-west route via Stampede Pass by constructing a cut-off between Auburn and Kanaskat. Richard Covington, a surveyor for the Northern Pacific Railroad based in Fort Vancouver, was responsible for developing the line through western Washington in order to connect St. Paul, Minnesota, and Auburn, Washington. Per the NP’s construction records at the University of Montana’s K. Ross Toole Archives, the main contractors were Seattle banker Horace C. Henry and long-time railroad contractor Nelson Bennett of Tacoma, Washington. Bennett was also the NP’s prime contractor for Stampede Tunnel, which he completed in 1888. George Allen Kyle was the project engineer in Auburn. Charles S. Bihler was the NP’s chief assistant engineer in Tacoma, supervising both Kyle and Bennett’s work.
In 1900, as part of the Palmer Cut-Off project from Kanaskat to Auburn, the Northern Pacific placed a 700-foot loading track, a 2,850-foot passing track, a second class section house (which cost $1,000 to construct, $100 to furnish), a 24-man bunkhouse, a box tank, and standpipe for watering steam locomotives at Covington. By 1908, the teeny-tiny community had become home to the Covington Lumber Company, which had established a mill designed to cut 85,000 board feet of timber each day. There is no photograph of the station at this location, which was likely erected following the cut-off construction. It functioned intermittently until the Great Depression when it was decommissioned in 1941.
In 1937, a school district was founded. The area has grown throughout the years as an unincorporated section of Kent. Covington was incorporated as a city on November 6, 1996, the same day as adjacent Maple Valley was incorporated. Covington became a city on August 31, 1997.
With the city’s fast population expansion since incorporation, the retail industry accounts for a sizable portion of the city’s revenue. The retail heart of the city was substantially created in the 2000s along the SR-516 corridor. Walmart, Kohl’s, Costco, and The Home Depot are just a few of the retailers in the retail center.
The City is also a major medical center for southeast King County, including facilities operated by MultiCare Health Systems and Valley Medical Center. MultiCare erected a four-story hospital in 2018 with 58 beds, two emergency departments, and a family birth center to serve the city. (Source: Wikipedia)