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

The railroad comes to Ridgefield (1903)

Traveling with the Lewis and Clark expedition in November 1806, 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 in the area, 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.

At first called Shobert’s Landing, the town would later become known as Union Ridge. In the last years of the Civil War, many Union veterans had begun to settle in the area. So when the settlers founded the area’s first post office in 1873, they called it Union Ridge so as to leave no doubt about their loyalty.

In 1890, after the town had grown downhill from the ridge, the name of the post office was changed to Ridgefield. In the town’s early years steamboats were the most popular way to travel any distance, but the town got a boost in 1903 with construction of a railroad through the community linking Kalama and Vancouver. Six years later the city of Ridgefield was incorporated. Today it is the gateway to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

For more about Ridgefield, visit the Web site at: www.ci.ridgefield.wa.us/.

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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
E-mail: pio@clark.wa.gov

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