Oregon Historical County Records Guide
Clatsop County History
Clatsop County Clerk's Office
An art deco building in the resort town of Seaside. (Photo No. clatDA0002)
The Clatsop County tourist destination town of Seaside got its name from the famous hostelry and resort, the Seaside House. Entrepreneur and railroad builder Ben Holladay built the resort in the 1870s and attracted prominent guests from far and wide with the sumptuous accommodations. Because the area was so isolated before the construction of modern highways, several means were used to travel to the resort.
Some of the visitors came down the Columbia to a landing point on the Skipanon River, near Astoria, where they were met by luxuriously appointed stage coaches for the last leg of their journey. Other guests traveled from San Francisco via Holladay steamers. Beginning in 1907 Portland area beach lovers took the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway to the beautiful Seaside setting. The line remained popular until World War II but has since been removed. (Sources: Oregon Geographic Names | Oregon: End of the Trail)
Oregon's provisional government created Clatsop County out of the northern and western portions of Tuality District on June 22, 1844. Five days later all of Clatsop County north of the Columbia River was used to create Vancouver County, in what is now Washington. The Provisional and Territorial Legislatures further defined Clatsop County's boundaries in 1845 and 1853.
The county currently occupies an area of 873 square miles and is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the north by the Columbia River, on the east by Columbia County, and on the south by Tillamook County. Clatsop County was named for the Clatsop Indians, one of many Chinook tribes living in Oregon.
Before 1850 most of Clatsop County's government activity occurred in Lexington. Astoria, Oregon's oldest city, was founded in 1811 and as Astoria grew, activities gradually shifted to that city. Astoria was chosen by electors to be the county seat in 1854 and the first county government sat in Astoria in 1856.
The early sessions of the county court prior to 1855 were held in the homes of county officials and private citizens, first in Lexington and later in Astoria. In 1855 a two-story frame courthouse was completed. The second courthouse was completed in 1908 and is still in use. With state court offices using nearly all of the courthouse, county offices are now located in administration buildings near the courthouse.
The first county government was organized in the mid-1840s with the election of justices of the peace, clerk, sheriff, assessor, treasurer, and the formation of district courts and the county board of commissioners. In 1964 the county court was replaced by a board of commissioners. The voters of Clatsop County approved a home rule charter in 1988, which called for a board of county commissioners as the policy determining body of the county, and a county manager.
The principle industries of Clatsop County are fishing, lumber, and agriculture. The Port of Astoria, created in 1914, is one of 23 Oregon port districts that support the trade and commerce of Oregon. The population of Clatsop County was 37,695 in 2008, a 5.8% increase over 2000.
An increasing number of cruise ships now stop in Astoria as tourists enjoy its shops, history, and nearby attractions. The Astoria Riverwalk, a paved trail that runs along the banks of the Columbia River, combines with the Astoria Riverfront Trolley to add to the recreational possibilities.