There are miles of pilings in the Lower Columbia area, that like the miles of stone walls in the west of Ireland, are mute reminders of the people who were here, not so long ago, and of the fish traps and canneries, log rafts and sawmills, and of the canoes, sailcraft and launches that were the automobiles of their time. Like the west of Ireland, the region's dominant economic forces originate elsewhere. Local hatcheries cannot replace the diminished fish runs of the dam-building era, the majority of Wahkiakum County's land remains in the hands of non-local timber interests, and the next major impact may be the industrialization of the Lower Columbia, beginning with the planned construction of several LNG terminals on the Oregon side of the river.
Photos: Above: Skamokawa Slough Pilings, Right: Inish Meain Stone Wall (photo by Fergal at World66)
One result of the resource extraction based economy has been the cycle of boom and bust that first swelled the population of the area, then diminished it. But this is a historically rich area. Though salmon runs are greatly reduced, the year-round availability of green grass and browse makes possible an abundance of game that draws hunters from miles around. The plants that sustained the native peoples are still nourishing those who care to seek them out. The gentle climate is encouraging a new wave of smallholders who are producing with sustainability and local marketing as goals.
Left: Skamokawa Harbor in the 1940s.