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Miscellaneous Information

Various Identification Codes ...

GNIS Codes ...

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) was created to address the problems caused by spelling and naming variations. The BGN will usually recognize an existing name or, when necessary, chose a name for a geographic feature (such as a mountain, lake, river, stream, city, town, village, dam, bridge, etc).

The BGN names are kept in a database called the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) and it is the official Federal repository. The GNIS is operated and maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

A unique and permanent identifier has been assigned for each name in the GNIS database. These names and identifiers are definitive and it is intended that they are to be used by all departments of the Federal Government:

GNIS ID for Ferndale: 2410498

GNIS ID for Whatcom County: 1529224

GNIS ID for Washington: 1779804

FIPS Codes ...

In a past effort, various federal agencies created a set of codes with a purpose similar to the GNIS codes. These codes are called the Federal Information Processing Standard (or the FIPS 55 codes). Although they are still used by some organizations, the FIPS codes are obsolete and will ultimately be replaced by the GNIS codes.

The following FIPS codes apply to Ferndale:

Place (Community) Code:  23620
State Code:  53 (Washington)
County Code:  073 (Whatcom County)

Since the Place and County FIPS codes are not unique and can be repeated in other States, it's necessary to combine the State code with the Place and County FIPS codes to uniquely identify them - for example:

State/Place Code:  53/23620
State/County Code:  53/073

As already mentioned, the FIPS codes are to be replaced by the GNIS codes. The following reflect those changes:

 FIPS Code
translates to    
State of Washington:    53   1779804
Whatcom County:    53/073   1529224
Ferndale:    53/23620   2410498

GPS Location - GNIS vs Census ...

An important aspect of the GNIS code is that it assigns a GPS location (the latitude/longitude) to the geographic feature. This location is simply a point on the map and does not represent the size or shape of the feature. In the case of Ferndale, it is a point within Ferndale that might be a post office, the city hall or simply an intersection - the point should really be considered arbitrary and only indicating a general location.

For Ferndale, the GNIS GPS location is given as:

Lat:   48° 51' 3"   (or 48.85°)

Lon:   -122° 35' 20"   (or -122.59°)  

Determined by its statistical needs, the Census Bureau has defined a sampling area for Ferndale - this area also contains a map point. As with the GNIS code, the location of the Census point should be considered as being arbitrary within the sampling area.

For Ferndale, the Census 2010 GPS location is given as:

Lat:   48° 51' 2"   (or 48.85°)

Lon:   -122° 35' 19"   (or -122.59°)  

The map point defined by the Census Bureau lies 141 feet to the southeast<1> of the point given by the GNIS (see above).

You might note that the GPS location given for the 2010 Census is different than the location that was specified by the 2000 Census:

Lat:   48° 50' 56"   (or 48.85°)

Lon:   -122° 35' 25"   (or -122.59°)  

The GPS location given for the 2000 Census lies 806 feet to the southwest<2> of the point given by the 2010 Census.

Regional Codes ...

For statistical purposes, the US Census Bureau has divided the country into four Regions. Ferndale is located in Region #4 (the West Region).

In turn, the US Census Bureau has further divided each Region into Divisions. Ferndale is located in Division #9 (the Pacific Division).

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has created ten Federal Regions. Ferndale is located in Region X (Region 10).

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has created ten Management Regions. Ferndale is located in Region X (Region 10).

ZIP Codes ...

While some people have used a ZIP code to identify a community, the purpose of the ZIP code was to make mail delivery more efficient by grouping addresses together. Although the ZIP Code doesn't specifically identify a city like Ferndale, it does identify addresses that are in (or near) Ferndale. It's important to remember that the boundaries of a ZIP Code are defined by the needs of the USPS and can be changed, re-assigned or overlapped with other ZIP Codes.

The ZIP code for Ferndale: 98248<3>

Referenced GNIS Records ...

GNIS ID #1512205   (Name of Record: Ferndale)

Class: populated place

A place or area having clustered or scattered buildings and a permanent population (such as a city, settlement, town or village). The boundaries may or may not coincide with the perceived population.

A 'populated place' record may have a corresponding 'census' or 'civil' record. The information contained in the 'populated place' record applies only to the class and should not be confused with either the 'census' and 'civil' classes.

County: Whatcom

Map Name: Ferndale

Lat: 48.8464992       Lon: -122.5910056  

Elev: 11 ft.

GNIS ID #2410498   (Name of Record: City of Ferndale)

Class: civil

A political division formed for administrative purposes (such as a borough, county, incorporated place, parish, town or township).

A 'civil' record may have a corresponding 'census' or 'populated place' record. The information contained in the 'civil' record applies only to the class and should not be confused with either the 'census' and 'populated place' classes.

County: Whatcom

Map Name: Ferndale

Lat: 48.8510837       Lon: -122.58907  

Elev: 13 ft.

Referenced FIPS Records ...

FIPS Code: 53/23620   (Place Name: Ferndale)

County: Whatcom     (FIPS State/County: 53/073)

Class: C1

Identifies an incorporated place (ie- Ferndale) that does not serve as a primary county division - or in other words, it is included in and is part of a primary county division (ie- Whatcom County).

GSA Code: 740

MRF Code: 445

MSA Code: 860

The official website for Ferndale:

The official website for Whatcom County:

The official website for State of Washington:

The official website of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN)

The official website of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

The official website of the U.S. Census Bureau

The official website of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

The official website of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Footnotes ...

<1>The calculated bearing (or angle) to the GNIS-supplied location is 228 degrees and a distance of 141 feet.
<2>The calculated bearing (or angle) to the 2000 Census location is 149 degrees and a distance of 806 feet.
<3>When looking for a ZIP Code, whether Ferndale or elsewhere, it's always best to check the website of the United States Postal Service (USPS).


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This page was last modified/updated: 07 Apr 2024