Thumbnail Sketches of Pacific County Towns*

BAY CENTER - A community on Goose Point where the Palix River enters Willapa Bay in northwest Pacific County. Oysters were first discovered there in 1849 and were quickly exploited for the California trade.

The settlement's first name was Palix. In 1875, it was changed to the present name by Mrs. Leonard Rhoades because the site is the middle of the landward side of Willapa Bay. (Rhoades Street, which is "our" street, is named after Leonard Rhoades. An 1880s photograph hanging on the wall of our cabin bedroom shows the Rhoades family on Bay Center's extremely long oyster pier, only remnants of which remain today.)

Around the turn of the century there were so many churches on the point that residents referred to the town as either New Jerusalem or Saints Rest.

RAYMOND - Population: 3,082. Raymond, Pacific County's largest town, is situated on the estuary of the Willapa River a mile east and south of South Bend. In early days, it was developed on lumber and shingle manufacturing. Leslie V. Raymond platted the town and was the first postmaster when the post office was established February 23, 1904.(Meany, p. 241).

SOUTH BEND - Population: 1,489. South Bend is three miles from where the mouth of the Willapa River flows into Willapa Harbor in north central Pacific County. In 1860 this town began as a sawmill. The South Bend Land Company promoted the town and it developed rapidly in the 1890s. The name refers to the distinct bend to the south in Willapa River at this point. The name was chosen by local settlers. John B. Woods, the first postmaster, used it for the post office. South Bend, now the county seat, is known for its oyster industry.

The stunning county courthouse, designed in the style of Second Renaissance Revival architecture, was built in 1911 and is on the state list of historically significant buildings.

NEMAH - A community at the mouth of the Nemah River on Willapa Bay in west central Pacific County, a little south of Bay Center. It is on the site of an old Indian village that had the same name. The meaning of the word has been lost, for the Indian band which lived there became extinct in the 1850s. A post office operated between 1894 and 1923.

NASELLE - The community of Naselle is at the confluence of the Naselle River with its South Fork in southwest Pacific County. The name, considerably altered from the original, is that of a division of the Chinook people, the Nisal. The alteration was made by postal authorities when a post office was established on November 16, 1877. This post office was discontinued in 1879 and when reestablished in 1881 the post office department recorded the name of the place as Nasel. The name Naselle was returned to the post office in May of 1920.

ILWACO - Population: 830. Ilwaco is on the northwest shore of Baker Bay near the mouth of Columbia River in southwest Pacific County. At one time it was a southern terminus of a narrow-gauge railroad that extended north to Nahcotta. The town was named for El-wa-co Jim, an Indian, who married a daughter of Chief Comcomly of the Chinook people. (Meany, p.118-119).

LONG BEACH - Population: 1,337.This hard, sandy beach faces the Pacific Ocean and is 300 feet wide at low tide near the south end of the Long Beach Peninsula in southwest Pacific County. It is a summer resort town with events that attract large numbers of tourists. In 1881, H. H. Tinker named the place when he built a large hotel.

NAHCOTTA - Nahcotta is a community on the west shore of Willapa Bay in west central Pacific County. It once was the terminus of a narrow gauge railroad from Ilwaco and was an important center of the oyster industry. At one time there were two adjoining towns. The south side was platted as Nahcotta and the north side as Sealand. After the oyster industry declined in 1881 the town diminished and Sealand was dropped. The name is for Chief Nachotte who guided early settlers to the oyster beds. A post office was established at Nahcotta on October 16, 1889. It was moved from place to place over the years.

TOKELAND - Tokeland is a community on a narrow spit at the north entrance to Willapa Harbor in northwest Pacific County. It is the center for crab fishing and is a summer resort. The settlement of Toke Point is located on the south side of the three mile long spit. The point is famous for oysters and was named by early settlers for an old Indian chief who was an expert canoe navigator and guide. (Meany, p. 311).

* Source (including the prose): The Tacoma Public Library.

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