Date of visit: April 17, 2011
Population: 1,737 (2010 Census)

White settlers arrived in the Clatskanie area in 1852, a post office was established in 1871, and incorporation came in 1891. (The town was named after the river, by the way, which was named after the Tlatskanai Indians.) But what most people don’t realize is that decades earlier the very first white settlement in the northwest was established very near here. In 1810 the Winship brothers, Abiel, Jonathan, and Nathan, and their men sailed the Albatross up the Columbia River. On June 4 they landed on the tip of land opposite Crims (or Grims) Island which they named Oak Point and immediately set to work building a fortress right next to the river. But on June 7 a heavy rain fell and the river rose, flooding the site of the partially-built fort. The men tore down the structure and floated the logs downstream about a quarter mile to a new location, where they started building again.

However, the Chinooks and Klatskanais in the area got wind of this new operation and were none too happy about it. If the white men established a trading post this far up river, they would steal business from the natives. They made their displeasure known to the white men, and Captain Nathan Winship prudently decided that they had better leave. He knew that they could use force against the natives to get their way, but he also knew that once the ship left the men who stayed behind at the fort would never be able to defend themselves if the Native Americans decided to attack. So on June 12 they packed up ship and sailed back down the river. The settlement had lasted less than two weeks.

105 years after that first Winship settlement, Clatskanie became accessible by road when Highway 30 was completed in 1915. According to an Oregonian article about the opening celebration of the highway, more than 100 cars were purchased by residents in the area in the months prior to the highway opening. The new route to the coast was a boon for businesses in the town. One proprietor quoted in the article said her business had increased five-fold thanks to the highway.

Welcome to Clatskanie

Flippin CastleThe Flippin Castle, built between 1898 and 1900 by Thomas J. Flippin

Most important building in townThe public library

A bookish place

A wonderful and charming book shelter in the park near the library

The Bike Inn
This charming-looking building is The Bike Inn. It’s designed for Highway 30 cyclists seeking a place to crash for the night.

Lewis and Clark

A very cool wood carving of Lewis & Clark canoeing through a tree

Benson House

The Benson house, built by Simon Benson for his son Amos in 1903

Map of Clatskanie

Oregon Towns Project