Cathlamet celebrates 115th birthday
February 24, 2022
By Diana Zimmerman
Mayor David Olson welcomed citizens to a birthday celebration last Friday, marking 115 years of the incorporation of the Town of Cathlamet.
There were speeches from the former Mayor, Dale Jacobson, Washington State Representative Joel McEntire, Wahkiakum County Commissioner Gene Strong, and Wahkiakum School District Superintendent Brent Freeman. Dayle Olson read a poem she had written for the occasion; a new town flag was raised, and cake was served.
A pretty town at river's edge
Today we mark its birth,
And hail those folks of yesteryear
Who recognized its worth.
1907 dawned so bright
Upon our steeple crown,
When citizens turned out to vote
Declaring us a town.
Cathlamet has long been a home
To independent minds.
So fly this flag, high, proud and free
Long as the river winds.
Mayor Olson thanked former mayor, Dale Jacobson, Superintendent Brent Freeman, and students at Wahkiakum High School for their contributions to the design of the new flag.
The new flag includes the date of the founding of Cathlamet by James Birnie, the use of the red and black, WHS and Chinook Tribal colors, and a "beautiful, stylized Bald Eagle celebrating the town's annual event, Bald Eagle Days," Olson said.
"We are proud to joyously celebrate the 115th birthday of the incorporation of our beautiful and historic Town," Mayor Olson said later. "I am reminded that Cathlamet as a community is considerably older than our 'Township' birthday, having been settled in 1846 by James Birnie, a doughty Scotsman late of the Hudson's Bay Company, renowned for his hospitality to settlers and travelers. As such, Cathlamet is one of the oldest established communities in all of Washington Territory, pre-dating any settlement on Puget Sound.
"We are proud to have hosted Presidents (including US Grant and JFK) as well as leaders such as Julia Butler Hansen, the 'Duchess of Cathlamet,' whose leadership led to construction of the Astoria-Megler Bridge and numerous other accomplishments.
"Today Cathlamet celebrates its heritage and continues to provide a 'unique welcome' to visitors and residents alike, just as James Birnie did in 1846. It is a great honor to serve as mayor of this wonderful place."