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Ilwaco incorporates on December 2, 1890.

HistoryLink.org Essay 10067 : Printer-Friendly Format

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.

Location, Location

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.

City Officials

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.

Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration of the State of Washington with additional material by Howard McKinley Corning, The New Washington A Guide To The Evergreen State, revised edition (Portland: Binfords & Mort, 1950); Ruth Kirk and Carmela Alexander, Exploring Washington's Past: A Road Guide To History, revised edition (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995); Lucile McDonald, Coast Country: A History of Southwest Washington (Ilwaco: Ilwaco Heritage Foundation, 1989); "Copy of Proceedings had in the matter of the Election to Incorporate the Town of Ilwaco," Record Group Washington Secretary of State, Corporations Division, Series Articles of Incorporation, Domestic Corporations, 1869-1964, Washington State Archives Southwest Regional Branch, Olympia, Washington.

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Iwaco to Oysterville stage, ca. 1885
Courtesy Washington State Library (Image 24642)

Columbia River salmon boat, ca. 1890
Sketch by J.W. Collins, from Fishing Vessels and Boats of the Pacific Coast, Courtesy UW Special Collections

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