If you want to dip your toes into Vancouver, Washington history or deep dive you will find enough books, websites and resources here to keep you well occupied for at least ten years. At least that is my finding. One resource leads to another to another to another and before long you may find yourself like me slightly addicted; Just one more book, no, two more books, okay fifty more and for sure I will stop.
I would suggest starting with Vancouver, Thumbnail History (online) for a wide overview of Vancouver, Washington. If you want to deep dive deep try Washington State Library: Classics in Washington History
Websites that Explore the History of Vancouver and Clark County Washington
Clark County History – Columbian
Historic Sites in Vancouver Washington – Visit Vancouver USA
Vancouver – Thumbnail History – HistoryLink.org
Lesser-known history tidbits of Vancouver, WA by Erica Thompson – Visit Vancouver USA
Vancouver and the Columbia River – City of Vancouver USA [Virtual map 1792 – Present] very cool.
Vancouver Washington History Books to Read
Here is a growing list of books I have read (or on my list), some websites I’ve visited, documents I’ve found and other facts, fun and trivia that have helped me to explore some of Vancouver, Washington’s amazing history.
A large number of the books are available at the Vancouver library (FVRL – Fort Vancouver Regional Library). If you type “Vancouver” into the search bar you will get a lot of books though you will have to filter out the British Columbia ones! (If you type in “Vancouver, Wa” or “Clark County Wa” you don’t come up with much at all.) BUT if you type in “Vancouver, Washington” using the full spelling of Washington you will get more.
If you type in “Vancouver Washington history” on the library website, you will find 53 books (as of 2021). Now this may sound a little stupid information to include except for weeks I only typed in words adding just “wa” or “usa” and thought those were all the books the library had. Wrong! So just in case someone isn’t as logical or research savvy like me I’ve included my acquired bit of wisdom. Please do not roll your eyes, it wasn’t that obvious to me!
Vancouver Washington – Historians & Authors
My beginning search of Vancouver historians/authors:
B.,F.,Alley and J.P Munro Fraser: History of Clarke County, Washington Territory : compiled from the most authentic sources ; also biographical sketches of its pioneers and prominent citizens
Mark Anderson: Vancouver: A Pictorial History
Ted Van Arsdol: All ahead full : Port of Vancouver USA marks 100 years of possibilities and progress | Feast of the soul : Vancouver’s historic Salmon Creek United Methodist Church | Northwest bastion : the U.S. Army barracks at Vancouver, 1849-1916 |Vancouver on the Columbia : an illustrated history | Land of prunes : the rise and fall of the prune industry in Clark County, Washington
Hillary Brown: Pioneer Mother: The Life and Times of Esther Clark Short
Richenda Fairhurst: Fishers Landing
T. J. Lineham: A Walking History of Mill Plain Boulevard, Vancouver US
Carl Landerholm: History-Columbian.com | Cayuse to Cadillac : Clark County, Washington, history
Ask Your Vancouver Washington FVRL Librarian!
I’m researching Vancouver history for my first historical novel that takes place here in the area in 1908. It’s a much bigger endeavor than I anticipated. Every time I want one of my characters to do something I find that I have to go on a hunt to see how it was done a hundred and ten years ago. At any rate I have been getting excellent help from our librarians even during these isolation days when we can’t actually step into the library.
Here is one of the first lists I was given to aid my research:
Vancouver: A Pictorial History by Marc Anderson
The Columbian Presents Clark County: The Early Years, 1850-1949
Vancouver on the Columbia: An Illustrated History by Ted Van Arsdol
A Walking History of Mill Plain Boulevard, Vancouver USA by T. J. Lineham
Pioneer Mother: The Life and Times of Esther Clark Short by Hillary Brown
To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey (Fiction set partly in Vancouver in the 1880s and partly in Alaska)
Online history research resources available through FVRL (Select “History” from the “Pick a Topic” dropdown menu)
The Clark County Historical Museum
Historical Sites of of Clark County, Washington
Start your discovery with Clark County’s “List of Historic Sites” as well as the National Register of Historic Places in Clark County, Washington
Vancouver Washington is rich with history from the discovery by Captain George Vancouver, to the the Hudson Bay Company with Dr. John McLaughlin and then on to Vancouver Barracks and the growth of Vancouver the village to the city and much more up to the present day.
A couple of years ago I created a Word Search puzzle book of 39 historic sites in Clark County. Below are links for further information of the sites covered in the book. Some of them are still active, a few of them are not open to the public though you can at least drive by and cross it off your Vancouver Adventure Exploration List.
Amboy Church | History | Clark County Description | Wikipedia
Arts Building | Clark County
Basalt Quarries | Clark County | Great article
Camas Post Office | Clark County | History Link
Carnegie Library | Clark County | Wikipedia | Wikimedia
Cedar Creek Grist Mill | Website | Images | LewisRiver.com | Facebook |
Farrell Building | Clark County | Wikipedia |
County Courthouse | Court History | Genealogy |
County Poor Farm | Clark County | CVTV video [2:22] | Heritage Farm Video 2011 [4:53] | Property & detailed history pdf 69 pages | Cemetery |
Elks Building | Clark County |
Fort Vancouver | NPS Website | Wikipedia | Oregon Encyclopedia (See further reading at bottom of page) | Facebook | Legends of America |
Grant House | Clark County | NPS Article | About Historical Marker | Restaurant sadly closed 2021 because of Covid – Wonderful history page |
Greely Building | Clark County |
House of Providence | Clark County | Historic Trust – timeline with videos | Life and Work of Mother Joseph video [1:42] | Providence Academy History (35 pages) pdf | Chronicles of House of Providence and Providence Academy, 1902 | SAH Archipedia |
I-5 Interstate Bridge | Wikipedia | Clark History | Columbia River Images | Bridge Map | Bridge Hunter | Columbia River Interstate Bridge Report 1918 |
Kettenring House | Clark County | Briar Rose Inn History |
Kiggins Theater | Website | History with videos | Facebook | Wikipedia | Cinema Treasures | Yelp |
Lewisville Park | Clark County | Oregon Hikers | Columbian News 2016 |
Lowell Hidden House | Clark County |
Luepke Florist | Clark County | Clark County Talk | Closure |
Marshall House | Clark County | Officers Row | Trip Advisor | Historic Trust | Wedding Spot |
Officer’s Row | Clark County | City of Vancouver | Officers Row | Columbia River Images |
Parkersville Landing Site | Clark County 1 |Clark County 2 | Columbia River Images | Facebook |
Parkersville National Historic Site | Clark County |
Pearson Air Field | NPS Pearson Field | Clark History | City of Vancouver | Historic Aerospace Site (pdf 12 pages)| AirNav.com | Wikepedia |
Pomeroy History Farm | Website | Clark County | Clark County Talk | Facebook
Ranck Building | Clark County | Clark County Heritage Register (pdf 112 pages) |
Slocum House | Wikipedia | Ghost Stories | Clark County | Oregon Digital |
Sparks Engleman Building | Clark County | Historic Preservation Report (pdf 109 pages)
Proto Cathedral St. James Church | Website | Facebook | Wikipedia | Clark County |
Summit Grove Lodge | Website | Clark County Today |
Vancouver Main Post Office | Clark County | Historical Photo | My Youtube Video [2:08]
Venersborg School | Clark County | Facebook | Venersborg.blogspot (old) | Wikipedia |
Yale Bridge | Clark County | Wikipedia | Library of Congress (12 images) | Historical and Desciptive Data (pdf 12 pages) | HistoryLink |
Historical Figures with Vancouver, Washington connections
A good book to start one’s search for historical figures of Vancouver is with Pat Jollota’s book, Legendary Locals of Vancouver. The index lists over 160 names covering four time periods.
Chapter One: From British To American – Early years (42 figures from Captain Vancouver to Abraham Lincoln Miller)
Chapter Two: From Boom to Bust – 19th Century ( 41 figures and notable events from Patrick Hough to Lloyd Ryan)
Chapter Three: Boom and Echoes – (39 figures from Elwood Caples to Justice George Simpson)
Chapter Four: The Big Change – (1960s – 1970s) (36 figures from Don Campbell to Dale Beacock)
Hatheway, John Shadrach, 1813-1853 Frontier Soldier
McLaughlin, Dr. John
Vancouver Washington – Historical PDF’s free to download
If you want to deep dive with some free resources try Washington State Library: Classics in Washington History
Historic Aerospace Site (pdf 12 pages) Pearson Air Field