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Clark County — Vancouver, Clark or Clarke County (1844)

Since its early days, the county has been named, renamed, divided and divided again until it reached its present size of 656.6 square miles.

Vancouver County is born

Clark County actually started out as the District of Vancouver. The first attempt to create a government in the region occurred when almost all the American settlers gathered at Champoeg on Feb. 18, 1841. After two years of meetings, the Oregon Provisional Government was established on July 5, 1843.

One of its first steps was to divide the huge territory into districts. On July 27, 1844, the Vancouver District was created. It included all land north of the Columbia River, west of the Rocky Mountains and south of Alaska. The date is widely considered to be the county's birth date, making it the first and oldest county in what would later become the state of Washington.

A year later, the provisional government changed its name to Vancouver County. At the time, it stretched from the Columbia River to 54 degrees 40 minutes North Latitude in British Columbia.

And they changed the name again (1849)

Fort Vancouver served as the seat of British power until June 15, 1846, when the United States Senate approved the present boundary between the U.S. and Canada at the 49th Parallel.

Two years later, on Aug. 13, 1848, President James Polk signed an act designating the entire region as the Oregon Territory. The Oregon Territorial Legislature became the first official United States government in the Pacific Northwest. The legislature had its own idea about what to call the county. On Sept. 3, 1849, it modified the borders again and changed the name to Clark County in honor of the explorer William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. For a short time, Clark County included all of present-day Washington.

In 1850, Congress established Vancouver Barracks as the largest military base in the west. The soldiers' mission was to pacify the Indians.

Oops. They changed the name again and again (1853 and 1925)

In 1853, a clerk accidentally added an "e" to the end of Clark and Clarke County was born. The name stayed Clarke County until Dec. 23, 1925. As a kind of Christmas present, Gov. Ronald Hartley signed a bill dropping the "e" and correcting the spelling to Clark County, as it remains today.

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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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