What is a Mossback?

Discover Northwest history and heritage with our Finding Your Roots virtual event, hosted by our resident Mossback.

You may have wondered it before — maybe you were too nervous to ask — but, have no fear, you wouldn’t be the first to inquire, what is a Mossback? Fans of the KCTS 9 and Crosscut series Mossback’s Northwest, showcasing local history and mythology, have probably guessed that a Mossback is someone who embodies the spirit of Seattle, or the Pacific Northwest. But anyone can be a Mossback. You don’t have to be born in Seattle to wear the distinction with pride. 

“To me a Mossback is not somebody who was born in the Northwest, but it’s somebody who comes here and knows they’re home,” Knute Berger, AKA Mossback, said in a 2018 episode of Mossback’s Northwest, titled “Does the Sun Make You Crave Rain? You Might Be a Mossback.” In the video, Berger also explains that the term started with Oregon Trail settlers and refers to the omnipresent algae covered growth of the Pacific Northwest. 

By understanding our roots, we can make way for a better future. But, what about the present? How can you tell if you are a Mossback? Take a look at some of our favorite moments from Mossback’s Northwest and tally up all of the traits that apply to you.

You might be a Mossback if …

Would you choose sunshine and gold, or forests and rain? 


Mossbacks know to carry an emotional sweater. (Not an umbrella.)

Let's settle this once and for all, is it Seattle ice or Seattle nice? 


Mossbacks have tried at least one of these Seattle foods.

The Dutch Baby, the Belgian Waffle, Teriyaki, the Seattle Dog and the Frango. How many have you tried?


Mossbacks know what “Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest” means. 

Well, it’s a mnemonic device.


Mossbacks know Bigfoot isn’t real. But, hear us out, maybe he is?

This Mossback's Northwest episode may not make you a Bigfoot Believer, but maybe a Bigfoot Agnostic. 

Caroline Gerdes
About the Author

Caroline Gerdes

Caroline Gerdes is the Marketing Manager at Cascade Public Media. Before working for Cascade Public Media, Caroline was a freelance writer and she worked for National Geographic as a grantee and digital producer. She is also the author of the book, An Oral History of the New Orleans Ninth Ward.