Word Nerd

By RYAN HUME

Svensen [svɛn•sɛn]

noun

1. an unincorporated area in Clatsop County situated on the Columbia River and located 11 miles east of Astoria on U.S. Highway 30

2. Svensen Island: a somewhat marshy island sitting in the Columbia River at Mile 24 and separated from the mainland by the Svensen Slough, which drains into the river

Origin:

A variant of Svensson, one of the most common Scandinavian surnames, which literally means, “son of Sven.” In Sweden to refer to someone idiomatically as a “Svensson” is to imply their ubiquity in Swedish culture, much like calling someone an average Joe in U.S. parlance. The community, island and slough in Clatsop County are attributed to Peter Svensen, a Finnish sailor who settled into a homestead on 160 acres in the area after jumping ship in Astoria in the 1870s. The post office officially changed its name from Bear Creek to Svensen in 1895. The post office closed in 1944.

“Charles P. Duke, the prisoner who escaped from the County Jail Thursday evening, was captured by Deputy Sheriff McLean at Svensen this evening as the fugitive was waiting to take a train for Rainer.”

—“Escaped Prisoner Retaken,” The Sunday Oregonian, June 9, 1907, P. 15

“The 30-kilowatt generator is located at the base of Bear Creek Dam east of the city near Svensen and is expected to produce about 154,645 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year.”

— Derrick DePledge, “At Bear Creek Dam, a shift in power,” The Daily Astorian, Feb. 26, 2015

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