On December 2, 1890, citizens of the Pacific County settlement known as Ilwaco vote to incorporate according to the laws of the state of Washington as the Town of Ilwaco. Of the 75 total votes cast, 64 are in favor of incorporation and 11 against.
Ilwaco is located on Baker Bay in Pacific County, at the confluence of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean -- the south end of the Long Beach Peninsula. The first non-Native settlers arrived in what would become Ilwaco in the late 1840s.
The town was initially called Unity in celebration of the conclusion of the Civil War, but in actual practice was known as Ilwaco after Elowahka Jim, son-in-law of hereditary Chinook Chief Comcomly (1760s?-1930). The town's patriotic moniker apparently never gained traction. The town plat, filed in 1876, used the name Ilwaco.
Ilwaco owed its early development to its location -- it was a transportation hub for travelers arriving by ferry and making their way on up the Long Beach Peninsula, a popular vacation destination for Portlanders seeking summer respite from the big city.
By the late 1860s, Ilwaco was a major stop on stagecoach and ferry routes between Astoria, Oregon and settlements on Puget Sound. In 1889, rail service replaced the stagecoaches.
The election that decided the incorporation question also determined the new town's first elected officials. These were:
- E. J. Colvin, mayor
- J. J. Brumbach (b.1850), John C. Denton (b. 1849), James Graham (b.1849), Wilson Graham (b. 1855), and T. H. Parks, councilmen
- John W. Howerton (1863-1929), treasurer
Ilwaco's incorporation papers were filed with the state on December 16, 1890.