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About Clark County > Proud Past > The railroad comes to Ridgefield (1903)

The railroad comes to Ridgefield (1903)

A member of the Lewis and Clark expedition in November 1806, Sgt. Patrick Gass described the Lake River area downstream from what is now Vancouver as “a beautiful part” of the Columbia River. Swans, geese, ducks, cranes and gulls were plentiful, and access was easy by water.

The first white settlers to arrive in what would become Ridgefield were James Carty in 1840, Frederick and Steven Shobert in 1853, Asa Richardson in 1855 and John Rathbun in 1867. The first post office was established in 1873, with Richardson in charge, and the first store was opened by Steven Shobert and J.J. Thompson in 1882.

First called Shobert’s Landing, the town later became known as Union Ridge. In the last years of the Civil War, many Union Army veterans settled in the area. So when they founded the area’s first post office in 1873, they called it Union Ridge to leave no doubt about their loyalty.

In 1890, after the town had grown downhill from the ridge, the post office name was changed to Ridgefield. In the early years, steamboats were the most popular way to travel. But the town got a boost in 1903 when a railroad was built through the community to link Kalama and Vancouver. Six years later, Ridgefield incorporated. Today it is the gateway to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

For more about Ridgefield, visit the city's website at

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Street address: 1300 Franklin Street, Floor 6, Vancouver, WA 98660
Mailing address: P.O. Box 5000, Vancouver, WA 98666-5000
Main phone: (360) 397-6012 | FAX: (360) 397-6015

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