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Origin of some our local names:

While some of the local names make sense, there never was a Battle in Battle Ground and there is no lake at Fargher Lake. While it's not too likely these will ever be on Jeopardy, here are some of the stories that go into the names around our area: 

Amboy: When A.M. Ball circulated a petition asking for a post office in 1886, he was given the honor of naming the town. There are three versions of how he made his choice. One version is that there were several settlers with the initials A.M.B., among them Ball himself as well as A.M. Browning and A.M. Blaker, who were called the A.M. Boys. 

Ariel: The site of the annual D.B. Cooper festival, this community on the road to Lake Merwin Park was named for the first born son of the postmaster, Leander Chitty. 

Battle Ground: A.M. Richter platted the town in 1902 and named the city for a battle that never took place. During the Northwest's brief Indian Wars of 1855-56, a band of Klickitats were ordered into Vancouver Barracks. Restless, some stole off into the night. When pursuing soldiers caught up with them near what is now Battle Ground, the Indians fired into the air. When the noise died down, Chief Umtux was found dead. Some blame the death on a hotheaded soldier; others blame the chief's own men. The chief was the only casualty. 

Brush Prairie: South of Battle Ground, this area was named by Elmorine Bowman for a very brushy prairie and swamp on her father's homestead. Others believe the area was simply named for a brushy marsh nearby.

Cedar Creek: Timbered with fragrant cedar, the creek ran across a lovely valley in the northwest of the county and was a welcome sight for early travelers. 

Chelatchie Prairie: Named in 1853 by a railroad surveyor after the nearby creek, called Chelatchie Creek. From an Indian word describing a flat area covered with ferns, the name is also applied to Chelatchie Creek. It lies near NE 419th Street and 256th Avenue.

Dollar's Corner: Mr. and Mrs. Smith L. Dollar bought land in 1917 and opened a store and filling station at 219th Street and 72nd Avenue. Sheriff's deputies who were told to patrol as far as where Mr. Dollar had his business reported back that they had patrolled as far as Dollar's Corner. A radio station in the 1940s, broadcast, that the shortest route into Vancouver was to turn left at Dollar's Corner and take the Manor Highway into town.

Fargher Lake: There was once a lake here, but it was drained more than 60 years ago. The area was settled by brothers Fred and Horatio Farghuar. The spelling of their name was later changed to Fargher. What was once the lake, became mint fields, is found at the end of the Lewisville Highway.

Heisson: This community northeast of Battle Ground was named for Alexander Heisen, who crossed the plains with an ox team and homesteaded the area in 1866. He and his wife, Mary, had 13 children. The post office was established in 1904, when he granted the government land at the logging site in exchange for having it named for him. The spelling was bungled, however and the community officially became Heisson. County Roads called it "Heissen," and the railroad called it "Heison."

Lewis River: Once spelled Lewes, the river is named for Adolphus Lewis, or Lewes, a former Hudson's Bay employee who changed its name from Cathlepootle to his own. He had no relationship to Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The name Cathlepootle was given by Lewis and Clark who named it for the tribe living along its banks. The word means "People who live along the rocky river."

Lucia Falls: There was a Lucia Mill in downtown Vancouver in 1885. After the Yacolt Burn of 1902, Mr. Lucia set up a mill on the East Fork of the Lewis River to salvage lumber from the burn. The mill was just upriver from the falls above Heisson, which now bear his name.

Merwin Lake: The dam on the Lewis River was finished in 1931. Without ceremony, on May 13, the gates were closed and water began to fill the lake. Since the dam was north of the town of Ariel, in Cowlitz County, the dam and the lake that formed behind it were called "Ariel." On May 1, 1948, in a simple ceremony, the name was changed to "Merwin" for L.T. Merwin, the vice-president of the Pacific Power and Light company, which owns the dam.

Moulton Falls: After the Yacolt Burn of 1902, many sawmills were set up to scavenge the lumber, much like what happened after the St. Helen's eruption in 1980. One of the mills was erected at the falls on the East Fork of the Lewis by a Mr. Moulton. Moulton Falls Park is on the Lewis and Clark Railway and part of the Battle Ground, Yacolt & Chelatchie Prairie Railroad.

Mount St. Helens: Some Indians of the Pacific Northwest variously called Mount St. Helens "Louwala-Clough, or "smoking mountain or fire mountain." In 1792 Capt. George Vancouver of the British Royal Navy, a seafarer and explorer named it in honor of a fellow countryman, Alleyne Fitzherbert, who held the title Baron St. Helens and who was at the time the British Ambassador to Spain. Vancouver also named three other volcanoes in the Cascades, Mount Baker, Mount Hood and Mount Rainier, for British naval officers.

Yacolt: The Indian word Yacolt means "place abounding in evil spirits" or "haunted valley," derived from an incident in which five Indian children were lost while picking wild berries, the demon, Yacolt, had gotten them, so the story goes! Two post offices competed in the area, Yacolt and Garner. They were combined under the present name.


Visit other Clark WA cities: Amboy, Battle Ground, Brush Prairie, Camas / Washougal, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Woodland, Yacolt
Go to Portland or Longview & Kelso
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