Clatskanie [klæt•skᵻ•naɪ]

noun

1. a small city and timber town in Columbia County situated on U.S. Highway 30 in the Nehalem Valley. First incorporated in 1891, the current population, according to the 2010 census, is 1,737. Clatskanie is also notable for being the birthplace of writer and poet Raymond Carver

2. Clatskanie River: a 25-mile-long tributary of the Columbia River that drains out of the Coast Range and into a slough approximately 5 miles south of Westport

Origin:

Both Clatskanie and Klaskanine (the name of another river; this one a tributary of the Youngs River in Clatsop County) come as variants from the native word, Tlats-kani, which one source claims means “swift running water.” As native peoples were not in the habit of naming rivers, but rather locations and points on a river, it was early white settlers who misapplied the word to the river itself from which the city later took its name.

The name Tlatskani or Tlatskanai was also the name given to a once fierce tribe of the Athapaskan-speaking language group that descended from Southwest Washington into the upper Nehalem Valley and whose numbers dwindled into extinction by the early 20th century following a smallpox epidemic.

When it was first platted in 1852, the city was briefly known as Bryantville, after early settler E.G. Bryant, before officially being listed with the U.S. Postal Service as Clatskanie in 1871.

“Clatskanie valley lies south of the Columbia river, about sixty miles down stream from Portland, and forty above Astoria, and is the most extensive agricultural district in Columbia county. It is drained by the Clatskanie river, which is navigable for steamers between the Columbia and the city of Clatskanie, which lies on the right bank of the river five miles above its mouth.”

—​“Columbia County, Oregon,” The West Shore, March 1, 1889, P. 152

“First and most important to the health of a community is its water supply. Clatskanie owns its own water system. The water is mountain water piped from the hills on either side of town. It is cold and very pure. Those who have tasted it prefer it to the famous Bull Run water of Portland.”

—Gertrude Collins, “Clatskanie, Oregon,” The Columbia Register, Friday, Sept. 29, 1905, P. 8

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