The History Of Camas


The naming of "Camas". 
Blossoming with clusters of showy deep blue flowers, something like a hyacinth in habit, the Camas Lily was eagerly sought by Columbia river valley Indians, since its bulb was an important part of their diet.  Grown in meadows and marshes, it was harvested in mid-summer and prepared for eating, cooking in primitive baking pits, first being wrapped in swamp grass before contact with hot stones.  When the cooked bulbs were dry, they were reduced to a flour from which bread could be made.  When boiled in water, the bulbs yielded a molasses that was treasured for use on important festival occasions.  Indians called the flower the KAMASS. (source unknown)

 

BRIEF HISTORY OF CAMAS

1883 LaCamas Colony Company selected townsite of LaCamas for their new paper mill. Mr. Henry L. Pittock, the owner of the Oregonian newspaper of Portland needed plenty of water to power paper-making machines for his newspaper and found it in the lakes behind the LaCamas region. The name "LaCamas" originated from the "camas roots used by the Indians for food" as written in a letter dated April 1909 by Mr. H. MacMaster, Councilman.
1883 Aeneas MacMaster opens the first store in LaCamas.
1884 First school and post office was established in LaCamas.
1889  Washington becomes a State of the Union.
1904 Telephone service to Vancouver was established.
1906 Camas was incorporated as a town.
1907 Northbank Highway opened from Vancouver, through Camas and Washougal, to Stevenson.
1908 The LaCamas Post, forerunner of the Post-Record newspaper, was created.
1928 The Crown Willamette Paper Company merged with the San Francisco-based Zellerbach Paper Mill Company forming Crown-Zellerbach Corporation.In WWII the Camas plant produced ship rudders in the machine shop. The rudders were being installed on the Liberty ships under construction in Vancouver and Portland.After the war, the plant's management became more interested in technical and research problems.
1946 the Central Research and Technical Department was formed to focus on projects with longer range benefits for the company and surrounding community.
1960 The name was changed to Central Research.  In later years, Crown Zellerbach Corporations changes ownership and name several times - currently being merged, but known as James River Corporation, it is now known as Georgia Pacific.
2006  The City celebrated its 100 year's as an incorporated city.

Today's downtown theme consists of flower baskets, trees and landscape flower beds. New lighting was installed in 2001 and has been a welcomed enhancement.  The industrial base has changed dramatically from a small "mill town" base to a thriving industrial park which benefits for its close proximity to the Portland International Airport, Columbia River, and surrounding large Metro area.


                                

Another resourceful site for historical information is the Columbia Communities site.  (Sponsored by the Center for Columbia Riiver History)

The Downtown Camas Association has a website which helps you find out about the many benefits of downtown Camas! Click here to go to www.downtowncamas.com

 

 

 

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