Washougal, Washington

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Washougal (pronounced /wɑːˈʃuːɡəl/) is a city in Clark County, Washington, United States. On July 1, 2008, the United States Census Bureau estimated that the city's population was 13,509.[3]

Contents

History

Washougal was officially incorporated on December 4, 1908. Its Mount Pleasant Grange Hall is the oldest continually used grange hall in Washington.

This small community is located on the Washington side of the Columbia River, with its lowlands and famous prairie situated on the west entrance to the scenic Columbia River Gorge. Motorists who approach Washougal from the west on the Lewis & Clark Highway are impressed with the majestic display of Mount Hood rising above the Cascade Mountains framed by the columnar cliffs that signal the gateway of the Gorge and the great Columbia River that reflects its view. This setting of natural beauty has inspired many an explorer, both old and new.

It can be accurately stated that Washougal is the "crossroads to discovery" in the Pacific Northwest. Shortly after Capt. Robert Gray, a Boston fur trader, entered the mouth of the Columbia River in May of 1792, the famed British explorer George Vancouver traveled to the region to verify Gray's discovery. In October of 1792, Vancouver directed a young Lieutenant named William Broughton to lead a party of men in a long boat up the Columbia to explore its head waters. Broughton came as far as present day Washougal and landed near the east end of Reed Island. He named Mount Hood after a British admiral and Point Vancouver after his commanding officer. Broughton incorrectly assumed the head waters of the Columbia originated from Mount Hood. In reality, the river originates some 1,000 miles to the north and east in Canada, but it would be 18 years later before the entire river was charted by another famed British explorer named David Thompson.

Captain Gray's discovery of the Columbia opened trade between Europeans and Chinook Indians who lived along the lower Columbia between the Cascade region and the river's mouth. U.S., British, Spanish and Russian fur traders bartered for sea otter and beaver skins in the late 18th century. Then, another important group of explorers visited the region in 1805-1806, but this group came from the east, which marked the first cross-continental expedition. These famed explorers were Meriwether Lewis & William Clark.

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