The name is of Yakama origin, "Wa pa too", which is an edible root of great value to Yakamas and settlers alike. Settlers have been in the area since as early as 1885. In 1903, the Postal Service changed the name of the town from Simcoe to Wapato, because Simcoe was too much like Fort Simcoe.

The main industry of Wapato is farming and ranching. This drew many different groups of settlers that have made the town diverse, Japanese, Filipino, Hispanic, and white. Diversity has given our town its uniqueness which is celebrated throughout the year at different events. The City is still renowned for its metal sculptures, fresh fruit and vegetable stands, and nearby wineries.