About Stevenson and Skamania County

Columbia River in Stevenson

The WAFP will hold its 2025 House of Delegates at Skamania Lodge in Stevenson. Here's a brief history of the area; use the links to explore further.

Skamania County is home to Mount St. Helens and Bonneville Dam. The first residents of what would become Skamania County called themselves Chilluckittequw and lived along the rivers draining into the Columbia River between Beacon Rock and Hood River. Around 1450, a massive landslide blocked the Columbia and created a massive lake to the east. When the river eventually broke through the blockage, it flooded downstream and created the Cascades rapids. The rapids allowed the Chilluckittequw people to more easily harvest salmon, and salmon became a central feature of their culture and economy. They continued to fish salmon until the Bonneville Dam flooded the rapids in the 1930s.

The territorial legislature originally carved out land from Clarke (now Clark) County in 1854. But two years later, the legislature reversed course; Skamania County was deleted, and its land divided between Clarke and Klickitat counties. This act was met with disapproval in Congress, forcing the legislature to repeal its deletion of the county in 1867.

Stevenson has been the county seat since 1890, when a group of men spontaneously moved the seat from the then-town of Lower Cascades. One night, they loaded the county's records into saddlebags and wheelbarrows; by morning, Stevenson was the county seat. Pioneer Henry Metzger noted there was "not too much objection" to the move. For those that did object, the issue became moot in 1894 when a massive flood washed away most of Lower Cascades, including the old courthouse.