Submitted by Rene Carroll
Local Camas-Washougal history will be celebrated and explored at the first annual Parkersville Day, Saturday, June 4 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Parker’s Landing Historical Park in Washougal (west of Westlie Ford).
The family-fun event will harken back to the olden days. In May of 1879 an event advertised as a “Grand Excursion & Picnic at Catalpha Grove on the beautiful steamer City of Quincy” took place in Parkersville. The activities included an aerial trapeze performance, Fat Men’s Race, Wheelbarrow Race, Sack Race, and Greased Pig Race with prizes. There was a large dance floor, croquet grounds, and swings run by horsepower. A fine brass band played.
The Vancouver Independent reported on July 8, 1880, that “More than 1,000 people were present at Catalpha Grove at the celebration on Monday, and the festivities did not close until a very late hour.”
On June 4, 2022, the Parkersville Day event, like the event in 1879, will offer games of croquet, wheelbarrow races, corn hole (bean bag toss), and quoits (ring toss) with historic candy prizes. A brass band from Washougal High School will close the event just as a fine brass band played at the landmark Parkersville event.
Today, Parkersville National Historic Site Advisory Committee (PNHSAC) to the Port and the nonprofit Parkersville Heritage Foundation (PHF) continue preserving the local history. For example, PHF paid $800, and the Port paid $1100 to install a wooden Parker’s Landing Historical Park sign in 1986.
The Parkersville Day event will introduce the community to local museums and new park partners, helping to preserve local history. The event will remember the historic Chevron and Sons Dairy by serving Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Storytellers will bring local history to life. Raffles will add opportunities to win prizes and preserve the park.
Additional History of Parkersville
Lewis Van Vleet’s grandson, Cecil Van Vleet, sold his mother’s 10 acres in Parkersville to the Port of Camas-Washougal in 1968. In 1978, one hundred years after Van Vleet filed a new Parkersville plat, citizens formed the Camas-Washougal Historical Society. Later, a citizen activist group, later known as the Parkersville Site Development Committee, created a master plan for a historical park. The project supported phases of development with fundraising, grants, park partners, and donors to offset the Port’s costs. After the Parker’s Landing Historical Park dedication in 1986, two more dedications for park improvements took place in 1997 and 2004.
The park’s walnut heritage tree, estimated at 100 years old in 1978, would have been planted in Parkersville around 1878. After the founder of Parkersville, David C. Parker, died in 1858, Lewis Van Vleet, Sr., managed his estate and moved there. On April 18, 1878, Van Vleet surveyed, platted, and filed a new Parkersville with eight added blocks, doubling its original size.