Submitted by Rene Carroll, Parkersville Day volunteer
The Camas-Washougal area has a rich history that began in a township that no longer exists…Parkersville. It is important to remember the stories of pioneer families, the evolution of land ownership and city boundaries, vital commerce, and early leaders. This is the goal of the now annually celebrated Parkersville Day.
The second annual Parkersville Day event will be held on June 3, 2023, from 12 pm to 3 pm at Parker’s Landing Historical Park, located on the Columbia River at the Port of Camas-Washougal. Parker’s Landing Historical Park is the national, state, and county registered historic site of Parkersville. History lovers should mark their calendars now.
The event’s namesake, David C. Parker, was the first American settler in the area that grew into Camas and Washougal. Parker arrived in the fall of 1844. On October 14, 1845, he made a land claim recorded at the Clark County Courthouse. It was the first claim filed there. In 1846, Parker and William Ryan erected a sawmill for Jacob Hunsaker where the La Camas Creek entered the Columbia River.
In 1852, George Hunsaker arrived and went into the lumber business. That year, Parker became supervisor of the end-of-the-road building project from Cascade City (Vancouver) to the Richard and Betsey (White Wing) Ough homestead in Washougal. At that time the only land route from the Vancouver area was by packhorse over the Hudson’s Bay cattle trail. The trail passed by Lacamas Lake and was crossed by bobcat, bear, deer, elk, and cougar.
Another route for early travelers was down the Columbia River by steamboat. On December 2, 1851, William Goodwin secured a ferry license. However, on June 10, 1854, Parker was granted a license to establish the route that Goodwin had sought, from the head of Lady Island to above the mouth of the Washougal River. Parker built a small dock on the Columbia River initially known as Parker’s Ferry and later as Parker’s Landing.
On May 1, 1854, Parker and John J. Lowell platted eight blocks as a new Parkersville township. Parker died in 1858, and in 1861, his ferry license was issued to Thomas J. Fletcher.
In 1878, Parker’s estate administrator, Lewis Van Vleet, Sr., a local notary involved in local government contracts, filed and recorded a plat for Parkerville. Van Vleet doubled the original town size. He began hosting grand events there, in the area called Catalpha Grove, which is today’s Parkers Landing.
Joseph E. C. Durgan began to build a new store in Parkersville in the 1870s but after noticing the growth to the east, bought 20 acres of the original Ough homestead, proceeded to tear down his store in Parkersville, and rebuilt it to be the first store in Washougal. Durgan paid $1,000 to Ough for those acres and then donated the land to begin the Washougal townsite established in 1880.
On December 31, 1928, Clark County auditors surveyed half of the Parker Donation Land Claim (T1N, RS4, W.M.). Engineer Park Ratten drew an additional plat by tracing Van Vleet’s 1878 map. He added Parker’s original eight blocks with details in “unofficial plats” and “on the ground” items such as existing fences and streets. Ratten’s 1928 map from Clark County GIS showed Parkersville lots and details. The property included riverfront lots of the original 160 lots platted as Parkersville.
Attend this year’s Parkersville Day, an annual event to explore more local history and enjoy 1878-themed entertainment for all ages.
Learn more at the Parkers Landing Historical Park Facebook page.