The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Advice for newcomers


To The Eagle:

I came to this area in 2003. I learned a lot in my first years as a newcomer, so I thought I’d share a few things with any new folks who have moved here recently. First, it’s important to realize you’ve come into a Scandinavian culture with Finnish folks in Naselle, Swedish and Finnish in Grays River, and Norwegian on Puget Island. There are other heritages as well, of course, but the Scandinavian heritage is very strong here. These are hardworking, honest, kind and intelligent folk who may not appear overly friendly at first. But if you learn their family history and how their ancestors came here, you’ll find folks who most likely had very little when they arrived. They (we) have a deep love for this area and those who live here. We most likely won’t walk up and introduce ourselves, but we will shake your hand and say welcome if you put out your hand to us. I value the people here more than I can express. These are good people who love their families above all. Every school sport has bleachers full of grandparents! The grandfathers and grandmothers taught their children to work hard and help their neighbors, even if you’re not liking them much “at the moment.” Owning land is a privilege and we treasure ours, take good care of it and expect our neighbors to do the same, though we may not tell you that directly!

Second, in order to gain trust in the community, I suggest asking questions first, then listen to the answers you get. There is a world of information in what you will hear. When they ask you a question, then start talking. Folks here are too polite to just jump in and tell you their stories. We have to ask, then listen. So much information is available in the stories the old timers tell. They love to tell them, too.

Third, slow down…your thinking, your conclusions, your pace, and your ideas. The only things that move quickly here are trees. They grow faster than can be imagined compared to other places I’ve lived!

Fourth, get involved. Volunteer somewhere, go to Bald Eagle Day and be in Cathlamet for the fireworks that night. The best anywhere I promise. Oh, I live in the blue house with all the flowers on Loop Road close to the Covered Bridge in Grays River. Come on over KM and check us out. There are more folks out here than you might think. Stop by anytime to see my flowers and introduce yourself! Welcome to one of the most beautiful areas on earth. This is where God spends His weekends, I’m convinced! I’ll be glad to see ya’.

Karen Bertroch

Grays River


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