Day 524 - Skamokawa
The rural community of Skamokawa in southwest Washington is on the north side of the Columbia River estuary, some thirty miles from the Pacific Ocean. Swedes and Norwegians began coming to the area in the late 1860s and 1870s, attracted by fishing, farming, and logging opportunities. The part of Skamokawa known as “Swede Town,” the Skamokawa Historic District, has several frame houses dating from the 1880s and 1890s. In 1887 the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Bethany congregation was organized in Skamokawa; it has disbanded.
Further west along the north side of the Columbia River, in Deep River, the Finns organized the Deep River Pioneer (Finnish Holy Trinity Evangelical) Lutheran Church. The white-frame Gothic Revival structure was constructed in 1898, four years after the congregation was organized. Although it is no longer used for regular worship, summer Sunday concerts have been held in the sanctuary because of its excellent acoustics. Restoration work continues on the building, which is two miles north of the Deep River Bridge at State Highway 4 between Naselle and Rosburg. Nearby cemeteries have a number of Swedish names on the markers. Both Swedes and Finns were attracted to the area because of the economic opportunities in logging and salmon fishing.
Further out towards the Pacific Ocean, the fishing community of Chinook near the mouth of the Columbia River attracted Scandinavians after it was established in the late 1870s. At the turn of the century, the congregation, which was more Norwegian than Swedish, organized the Evangelical Lutheran Church, on Main Street opposite the post office (360-777-8416). The church was designed by a carpenter from nearby Astoria, Oregon, and built by local Scandinavians. On occasion, Swedish pastors from Astoria came across the wide Columbia River to serve the congregation. The white-frame church with a central steeple has Gothic-style windows and a barrel-vault wood ceiling.
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