Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Stella, Washington"
Includes ... Stella ... Stella Blacksmith Shop ... National Register of Historic Places ... Log Rafts ... Cigar Rafts ... Fall Creek ... Fall Creek Falls ... USS Sperry (AS-12) ...
Image, 2005, Stella, Washington, click to enlarge
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Stella, Washington. View from upstream on Washington Highway 4. Image taken March 5, 2005.


Stella ...
Stella is located on the Washington side of the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 56.5, at the mouth of Germany Creek. Downstream is Bunker Hill, Mill Creek, Crims Island, and County Line Park. Upstream is Fall Creek, the Coal Creek Slough, Willow Grove, Fisher Island, and the Washington communities of Longview and Kelso. On the Oregon side of the Columbia is located Green Point and the community of Mayger.

Image, 2007, Stella, Washington, click to enlarge
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Street scene, Stella, Washington. Image taken January 28, 2007.


Early Stella ...
The Stella townsite was originally part of a 320-acre Donation Land Claim filed by John Guisendorfer in the early 1850s. Soon after it was purchased by Henry Lawson who established a river landing at the site. A small community, mostly of German immigrants, sprang up during the 1870s, which provided cordwood for the steamboats and assembled log-rafts to float logs to float logs for California mills.

"By the 1890s, the Stella Wharf was an important assembly point for the rafts, and in 1894, the first huge "cigar raft" was formed, a cylindrically-shaped raft containing 6.5 million board feet of logs destined for California. By the turn of the century, large national companies, including the Hammond Lumber Company and the Wisconsin Lumber Company, dominated area operations and employed over 1,000 men. In addition to the dock, several stores, hotels, and a mill were constructed in Stella during the boom years. A fire in 1907 destroyed a number of those buildings, but the town was quickly rebuilt and new structures included a community blacksmith shop built by B.F. Brock. ..." [National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, 1985, from Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation website, 2006]

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management General Land Office (GLO) Records database (2006) shows title being granted to a John Guisendorfer on December 22, 1865, for 323.27 acres of T8N R4W Sections 11 and 12 (Oregon-Donation Act of 1850).

Edmund S. Meany wrote in "Origin of Washington Geographic Names" (1923, University of Washington Press):

"Stella ... a postoffice in southwestern part of Cowlitz County. About 1880, a man named Packard started a store and secured a postoffice which he caused to be named after his daughter, Stella."

Robert Hitchman wrote in "Place Names of Washington" (1985, Washington State Historical Society):

"Stella (T8N R4W, Section 12) ... Hamlet at the mouth of Germany Creek, north bank of Columbia River, 9 miles west of Longview, southwest Cowlitz County. It was named for a daughter of Richard Packard who established a store here in 1880."

Early Images ...

Penny Postcard, Stella, Washington
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Early Image "Postcard": Stella, Washington, ca.1921-1928.
New "postcard" published by the Stella Historical Society. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Caption on back: "Stella, WA after fire in 1921. The old road before Ocean Beach Hwy, which was built in 1928."
Penny Postcard, Stella, Washington
Click image to enlarge
Early Image "Postcard": Stella, Washington, ca.1895.
New "postcard" published by the Stella Historical Society. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Caption on back: "1895 saloon at Stella, WA. Bud Horton second from left."


Stella in 1875 ...

Image, 2011, Stella, Washington, click to enlarge
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Quilt blocks, Stella Historical Society Museum, Stella, Washington. Quilt made 1988 by the folks of the Stella Historical Society. Image taken August 7, 2011.


Stella burned twice ...
Stella suffered two major fires, one on July 27, 1907, and one on May 16, 1921, both of which destroyed a large part of the town. Each time the community rebuilt.

Image, 2011, Stella, Washington, click to enlarge
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Photo, Stella after the 1921 fire yet before the construction of the Ocean Beach Highway, Stella Historical Society Museum, Stella, Washington. Image taken August 7, 2011.

The 1907 Blacksmith's Shop is second building from the left. It was built after the 1907 fire.

The one-way bridge over Germany Creek wetlands was built in 1916, replacing one from 1909. This second bridge had a turn-out built into it, for passing vehicles. The Ocean Beach Highway (today's Washington State Highway 4) was completed past Stella in 1929.



Stella in 1941 ...

From "The New Washington: A Guide to the Evergreen State" (1941, Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration):

"STELLA, 54.2 m. (12 alt., 298 pop.), a dairying and lumbering village, received its name from the daughter of Richard Packard, who in 1880 established a store and post office there. During August, salmon from the Columbia abound near the mouth of Germany Creek. Black clusters of scavenger birds feed on the fish that die after spawning.

Several brightly painted buildings (L) constitute OAK POINT, 59.2 m. (94 alt., 177 pop.), where Mill Creek flows into the eddies of the Columbia River."


Views ...

Image, 2005, Stella, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Stella, Washington. View from upstream on Washington Highway 4. Image taken March 5, 2005.
Image, 2005, Looking across the Columbia River, Mayger, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Stella, Washington, from Mayger, Oregon. Looking across the Columbia River. Image taken February 21, 2005.


Stella, etc.

  • Blacksmith Shop and Historical Society Museum ...
  • Bunker Hill ...
  • Coal Creek Slough ...
  • Columbia River from Stella ...
  • Fall Creek and Fall Creek Falls ...
  • Log Rafts ...
  • U.S.S. Sperry (AS-12) ...


Blacksmith Shop and Historical Society Museum ...
The Stella Blacksmith Shop was built in 1907 by B.F. Brock, a prominent area lumberman. The shop served the community, it survived a fire in 1921, and when the economy of the lumber industry changed the shop changed too. In the declining years the shop became an automobile repair shop. In 1977 the shop was leased to the Stella Historical Society and today it is an area Museum. In 1985 the structure was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (Building - #85003204).

[More --- Blacksmith Shop and Museum Memorabilia]

Image, 2007, Stella, Washington, click to enlarge
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Sign, Stella Historical Site and Museum, Washington. Bunker Hill is in the background. Image taken October 13, 2007.
Image, 2007, Stella, Washington, click to enlarge
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Stella Historical Site and Museum, Washington. View from Washington Highway 4. The original blacksmith's shop is the middle building. Image taken January 28, 2007.
Image, 2007, Stella, Washington, click to enlarge
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Stella Historical Site and Museum, Washington. Image taken October 13, 2007.
Image, 2007, Stella, Washington, click to enlarge
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Stella Historical Site and Museum, Washington. Image taken October 13, 2007.


Bunker Hill ...
[More]

Image, 2007, Bunker Hill, click to enlarge
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Bunker Hill, as seen from Stella, Washington. View is looking west. Image taken January 28, 2007.
Image, 2007, Stella, Washington, click to enlarge
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Bunker Hill, as seen from Stella, Washington. Image taken October 13, 2007.


Coal Creek Slough ...
Coal Creek Slough separates Willow Grove from mainland Washington State. The Slough enters the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 56.5, near the town of Stella.
[More]

Penny Postcard, Stella, Washington
Click image to enlarge
"Postcard": Coal Creek Slough at Stella, Washington, 1907.
New "postcard" published by the Stella Historical Society. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Caption on back: "Loading ships in Coal Creek slough at Stella, WA. 1907."
Image, 2014, Coal Creek Slough and Stella, Washington, click to enlarge
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Looking down Coal Creek Slough towards Stella, Washington. Image taken May 19, 2014.
Image, 2007, Coal Creek Slough upstream of Stella, Washington, click to enlarge
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Coal Creek Slough from Stella, Washington. View from Washington Highway 4, upstream of Stella, Washington. Image taken January 28, 2007.


Columbia River from Stella ...

Image, 2007, Columbia River at Stella, Washington, click to enlarge
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Columbia River from Stella, Washington. Image taken October 13, 2007.
Image, 2007, Columbia River at Stella, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia River from Stella, Washington. Image taken January 28, 2007.


Fall Creek and Fall Creek Falls ...
One-quarter mile east of the town of Stella is Fall Creek, with Fall Creek Falls visible from Washington State Highway 4. According to the Stella Historical Society's publication "History of Stella", in 1879 a settler by the name of W.H. Williamson arrived at Stella and built a flume down Fall Creek to a dock which he had established to the east of Stella. Williamson flumed cordwood for use on the passing steamers. By 1895 a shingle mill was in operation in front of the Falls.

Image, 2007, Stella, Washington, click to enlarge
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Fall Creek Falls, near Stella. View from moving car on Washington Highway 4. Image taken January 28, 2007.
Image, 2013, Stella, Washington, click to enlarge
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Fall Creek Falls, near Stella. View from moving car on Washington Highway 4. Image taken March 8, 2013.


Log Rafts ...
[More]

Image, 2011, Stella, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Photo, "Cigar Raft" at Stella, Stella Historical Society Museum, Stella, Washington. Image taken August 7, 2011.

Caption on this image in the Stella Historical Society's "History of Stella" publication (1984) says "1896 Cigar raft. Cradle on right used to assemble the 65-foot-wide, 35-foot-deep, 600-foot-long raft. The ocean-going raft contained five million board feet of lumber. Made at Stella."


U.S.S. Sperry (AS-12) and the Columbia River ...
On June 12, 1967, at a spot 3/4 mile west of the town of Stella where today's Washington State Highway 4 (then U.S. Highway 830) begins to rise and makes a sharp turn to the right, the Navy submarine tender U.S.S. Sperry (AS-12) had a mishap and took out half of the Washington road.

Sub Rams Highway Near Stella, Wash.

AP: "Traffic ground to a halt on U.S. Highway 830 about 10 miles west of Longview Monday, when the submarine Tender USS Sperry plowed into the highway breaking pavement and knocking down power and telephone lines. The 530-foot Sperry was making its way down the Columbia River enroute from the Portland Rose Festival to San Diego when its pilot lost steerage, the 13th Naval District headquarters said.

Witnesses said sirens were screeching and the ships public address system was blaring an alert to the crew as the vessel sliced through the muddy bank near the little town of Stella and came to rest after chopping out half the pavement.

The Navy said the Sperry was aground for about two hours before backing off and proceeding down the river. The ship was not visibly damaged, the Navy said.

The Sperry, stationed in San Diego, is commanded by Capt. Michael M. Elliott, Manlius, N.Y.. A civilian pilot was abouard at the time of the mishap."


Source:    "Walla Walla Union Bulletin", Tuesday, June 13, 1967, p.3., courtesy "Newspaperarchive.com" website, 2012.


CRASH:

"U.S. 830 about 10 miles west of Stella, Wash., was damaged Monday afternoon when it was struck by submarine tender USS Sperry when the ship's steering failed. The ship was not visibly damaged and the steering was repaired. It is homeported in San Diego." (AP Wirephoto).


Newspaper Image, AP Wirephoto, Yuma Sun, June 13, 1967, click to enlarge
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NEWSPAPER Image (AP Wirephoto), U.S. Highway 830 damaged from U.S.S. Sperry crash, June 12, 1967. "The Yuma Daily Sun", Tuesday, June 13, 1967, courtesy "NewspaperArchive.com" website, 2019.


Source:    "The Yuma Daily Sun", Tuesday, June 13, 1967, courtesy "Newspaperarchive.com" website, 2019.


Ship Slices Into Highway:

"The USS Sperry, a submarine tender, cut a deep gash into Highway 830 near Longview, Wash., when it lost steering power after starting a turn in the Columbia River yesterday. The ship backed away and continued out to sea." (UPI Telephoto).


Newspaper Image, UPI Telephoto, June 14, 1967, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
NEWSPAPER Image (UPI Telephoto), U.S. Highway 830 damaged from U.S.S. Sperry crash, June 12, 1967. "The Post-Standard", (Syracuse, N.Y.), Wednesday, June 14, 1967, courtesy "NewspaperArchive.com" website, 2019.


Source:    "The Post-Standard", (Syracuse, N.Y.), Wednesday, June 14, 1967, courtesy "Newspaperarchive.com" website, 2019.


Image, 2013, Washington Highway 4, Stella, Washington, click to enlarge
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Washington Highway 4, west of Stella, Washington, looking east. On June 12, 1967, at the road curve, the U.S.S. Sperry collided with the Washington bank, taking out a good section of highway. View is looking east. Image taken March 4, 2013.
Image, 2012, Washington Highway 4, Stella, Washington, click to enlarge
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Washington Highway 4, west of Stella, Washington, looking west. On June 12, 1967, at the top of the road curve, the U.S.S. Sperry collided with the Washington bank, taking out a good section of highway. View is looking west. Image taken August 9, 2012.


"The Golden Age of Postcards" ...

The early 1900s was the "Golden Age of Postcards", with the "Penny Postcard" being a popular way to send greetings to family and friends. Today the Penny Postcard has become a snapshot of history.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 6, 1805, first draft ...




Journey to the PacificReturn to
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*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003

Sources:
  • Hitchman, R., 1984, "Place Names of Washington", Washington State Historical Society;
  • Meany, E.S., 1923, "Origin of Washington Geographic Names", University of Washington Press, Seattle;
  • National Register of Historic Places website, 2005;
  • "Newspaperarchive.com" website, 2012, 2019;
  • Stella Historical Society, 1984, "History of Stella", vol.1;
  • Stella Historical Society, 2012, personal communication;
  • U.S. Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office (GLO) Records database, 2006;
  • Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation website, 2006;
  • Writers' Program, Work Projects Administration (WPA), 1941, "The New Washington: A Guide to the Evergreen State", sponsored by the Washington State Historical Society;


All Lewis and Clark quotations from Gary Moulton editions of the Lewis and Clark Journals, University of Nebraska Press, all attempts have been made to type the quotations exactly as in the Moulton editions, however typing errors introduced by this web author cannot be ruled out; location interpretation from variety of sources, including this website author.
/Regions/Places/stella.html
August 2013