Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Svensen and Svensen Island, Oregon"
Includes ... Svensen ... Svensen Island ...
Image, 2005, Svensen Island, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Old house, Svensen Island, Oregon. Image taken November 15, 2005.

Svensen and Svensen Island ...
Svensen and Svensen Island, Oregon, lie on the south side of the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 24, between Settler Point downstream and Knappa upstream. Lewis and Clark passed by this area on November 26, 1805, on their way to build their winter camp on the Lewis and Clark River, and they again passed through the area on March 24, 1806, as they began their journey back home.

Peter Svensen ...
Oregon Pioneer Dies at Svensen.

"Astoria, Or., Feb.5 -- (Special.) -- Peter Svensen, an Oregon pioneer of the early 50s, died at his home, near Svensen, last night after a protracted illness. Mr. Svensen was born at Landscroma, Sweden, on July 9, 1822. He went to sea when a young man and was a member of the crew of the packet ship Austria when she was destroyed by fire while en route to New York with over 300 passengers, he being one of the eight persons on board who were saved. He came to Oregon about 1850 and for a number of years was employed on Government vessels in the geodetic survey and later took up the claim on which he resided until his death. he left a widow but no children."

Source:    "Morning Oregonian", Febraury 6, 1911, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2019.

Early Svensen ...
Often seen spelled "Svenson", in 1941 the U.S. Board of Geographic Names made "Svensen" the offical spelling.

Svensen and Svensen Island were named for Peter Svensen, an early settler, who, according to Keith G. Hay who wrote "The Lewis and Clark Columbia River Water Trail" (2004):

"... This Finnish emigrant community derives its name from a sailor named Peter Svensen, who reportedly jumped ship in Astoria and settled in the area in 1877. It was not until 1895, however, that the name of the local post office was changed from Bear Creek to Svensen. ..."

According to "Oregon Geographic Names" (2003, McArthur and McArthur, Oregon Historical Society):

"Svensen (CLATSOP) ... This is the correct spelling and not Svenson. The USBGN has adopted the form Svensen for the community and also for a nearby island along the south bank of Columbia River. These features were named for Peter Svensen, a seafaring man who settled near the Columbia River in early days. The post office ran from 1895 to 1944."

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office (GLO) Records database shows a Peter Svenson being issued a land title on March 1, 1872, for 160 acres of parts of T8N R8W Sections 15 and 22, under the 1862 "Homestead Entry Original".

The Svensen Post Office was in operation from 1895 until 1944.

Svensen in 1895 ...
"The residence of Peter Svenson, at Svenson's landing, about 10 miles from this city [Astoria], was totally destroyed by fire today, together with its contents. No particulars of the affair could be obtained this evening, further than that no lives were lost."

Source:    "Morning Oregonian", February 12, 1895, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2019.

"Yesterday afternoon the residence of Peter Svensen, of Svensen's Landing, caught fire and was burned to the ground. The particulars of the fire could not be learned, but enough is known to be safe in saying that the building and most of the contents were a total loss. The east wind blowing at the time fanned the flames into such a fury that it was impossible to get enough water on the building to do any good."

Source:    "The Daily Morning Astorian", February 12, 1895, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2019.

Svensen in 1940 ...
From the Oregon State Archives "A 1940 Journey Across Oregon":

"... At 92.5 m. is a junction with an improved road.

Right here to SVENSON, 0.7 m. (10 alt., 100 pop.), less a town than a series of fishing wharves, extending into the Columbia River, which broadens to a width of five miles. Tied up at these docks are many fishing crafts. These small boats, their engines hooded for protection from spray and weather, ride restlessly in the tide's movement. Net drying racks stretch at length over the salt soaked planking, where fishermen mend their linen nets between catches.

It is from these docks, and the many that closely line the river's south shore from this point to Astoria, a distance of eight miles, that a large portion of the salmon fishing fleet puts out. ..."

Views ...

Penny Postcard, Svensen, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Svensen, Oregon. Penny Postcard, Real Photo, Sepia, Divided Back, "Svensen, Ore., Coe Photo., U.F.B. Picnic, 1912." Added to back: Elmer A. Coe, photographer, active in Astoria, 1906-11, at 110 11th." In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Image, 2005, Svensen Island, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Slough, looking downstream, between Sevensen Island and the mainland. Image taken November 15, 2005.
Image, 2005, Svensen Island, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Bridge crossing to Svensen Island. Image taken November 15, 2005.

Svensen, etc.

  • Knappa Fire District ...

Knappa Fire District ...
"Proudly serving the communities of Knappa, Svensen, Burnside, Brownsmead, and Clifton/Bradwood, Oregon."

The Knappa Fire District was formed February 23, 1955 and initially served 12 square miles, had one station (in Knappa), 11 volunteers, and responded to an average of 12 calls a year. Today, the District covers 80 square miles, has three stations (Knappa, Svensen, and Brownsmead), 28 volunteers, and responds to an average of 400 calls per year.

"Today, the Fire District provides services with an average of 28 Volunteers and a career Fire Chief. We typically respond to about 400 calls for service annually. The District comprises of a geographic area of approximately 80 square miles with a population of roughly 3500. Geographically we are the largest Fire District in Clatsop County." [Knappa Fire District, 2019]

Image, 2012, Knappa Fire District, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
The Knappa, Svensen, and Burnside Fire Station, Svensen, Oregon. Image taken March 8, 2012.

One of three stations in the district, the Knappa, Svensen, and Burnside station houses "an Engine, a Tender, and a Medium Duty Rescue" (2019).

"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 26, 1805, first draft ...

Clark, November 26, 1805 ...

Clark, March 24, 1806 ...

Journey to the PacificReturn to

*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

  • Hay, K.G., 2004, "The Lewis and Clark Columbia River Water Trail", Timber Press, Portland;
  • Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2019;
  • Knappa Fire District website, 2019;
  • McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L. 2003, "Oregon Geographic Names", Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland;
  • Oregon State Archives website, 2009, "A 1940 Journey Across Oregon";
  • U.S. Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office (GLO) Records database, 2005;
  • U.S. Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database, 2006;

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.
August 2011