From the Bottoms to Forest City: How Woodland got its start

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The city of Woodland went through multiple names before it adopted the one it is known for today.

According to a document called “The Historic Pacific Highway in Washington,” the area was originally called the Bottoms by early settlers in the 1850s. In the 1860s, it then became known as Pekin, which began a few miles south of Woodland near where the Military Road crossed the river.

Woodland was originally the name of the farm that was owned by Squire and Mildred (Millie) Bozarth, the document stated. Millie named the farm Woodland because of the many fir trees that grew there, but early residents of the region also called the area “Forest City.”

The document stated that Woodland started out as a single store that opened in 1881 by Christopher Columbus Bozarth, or “Uncle Chris,” who was the son of Squire Bozarth. The post office was then established at Christopher’s store on June 9, 1882.

Later around 1883, the name of the town was changed from Pekin to Woodland, which was around the time the Pekin Post Office was discontinued and moved. 



Although Woodland was first platted in 1889, the town temporarily lost its post office in 1890. It was then moved near the grange building built in 1876 on John Bozarth’s claim, where the post office was named Kerns. A month later, the post office was re-established by Christopher Bozarth, which lasted until 1906, the document stated.

On June 9, 1894, the Columbia River overflowed its banks, which caused extensive damage to the towns along the river. Captain Gray of the Lewis River Transportation Company’s steamer Mascot, which traveled between Portland and towns on the Lewis River, detailed his experience in the document.

“Down along our route the people in the lowlands have deserted their homes and fled to the hills for safety,” Gray stated. “Woodland, a town of four or five hundred inhabitants, is completely submerged, and has been deserted by all but a few, who remained to save their effects and are now living in the second stories of their houses. Of those who fled, some are camping in the highlands and others are staying with friends. So far as I could learn, no one was in distress, but that will be an after effect of the flood, as most of these people have lost all, or nearly all, of their worldly possessions.”

Once the catastrophe was over, the Lewis River Bridge was proposed to connect the Pacific Highway in Southwest Washington. Woodland residents demanded the construction of the bridge starting in 1894. However, on July 20, 1911, the Washington state Legislature approved the funding for the bridge, which cost a total of $60,000. The state paid $30,000 and surrounding counties paid $15,000 each.

More information on the history of the city can be found at pacific-hwy.net/woodland.htm

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