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Clark County — Vancouver, Clark, or Clarke County (1844)

Since its early days the county has been named and renamed, divided and divided again, until reaching its present size of 656.6 square miles.

Vancouver County is born

Clark County actually started out as the District of Vancouver. The first attempt at creating a government in the region occurred when almost all the American settlers gathered at Champoeg on February 18, 1841.

After two years of meetings, the Oregon Provisional Government was established on July 5, 1843. One of their first steps was to divide the huge territory into districts. On July 27, 1844, the Vancouver District was created. It included all the land north of the Columbia River, west of the Rocky Mountains, and south of Alaska. This date is widely considered to be the county's birth date, making it the first and oldest county in what would later become the state of Washington.

In 1845, a year after creating the Vancouver District, the provisional government changed its name to Vancouver County. At that time it stretched from the Columbia River to 54 degrees 40 minutes North Latitude in British Columbia.

And they changed the name again (1849)

Fort Vancouver served as the seat of British power until June 15, 1846, when the United States Senate approved the present boundary between the U.S. and Canada at the 49th Parallel.

Two years later on August 13, 1848, President Polk signed an act creating the entire region as the Oregon Territory. The Oregon Territorial Legislature became the first official United States government in the Pacific Northwest. The legislature had its own idea about what to call the county and on September 3, 1849, modified its borders again and changed its name to Clark County in honor of the great explorer, William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. For a short time, Clark County included all of present-day Washington.

A year later Congress also established Vancouver Barracks as the largest military base in the west. The soldiers' mission was to pacify the Indians.

Oops. They changed the name again and again (1853 and 1925)

In 1853 a clerk accidentally added an "e" to the end of Clark and Clarke County was born. It stayed Clarke County until December 23, 1925. As a kind of Christmas present, Governor Ronald Hartley signed a bill dropping the "e" and correcting the spelling to Clark County as it remains today.

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Street address: 1300 Franklin Street, Floor 6, Vancouver, WA 98660
Mailing address: P.O. Box 5000, Vancouver, WA 98666-5000
Main phone: (360) 397-6012 | FAX: (360) 397-6015
E-mail: pio@clark.wa.gov

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