A weathered fishing village. When Pacific County was established on February 4, 1851, this fishing center became the county seat and was then called Chenookville or Chinookville. The name is a distortion of the “Tsinuk or Chenoke, the name of an Indian tribe, which lived near the mouth of the Columbia River.
Although antedated by the neighboring settlement of Chinookville, long since disintegrated, Chinook glories in its historic past. Captain Robert Gray’s visit to this section in 1792 constituted a strong claim of the United States to possession of all the country drained by the Columbia River.
Despite Chinook’s somewhat storm-worn appearance, it boasted for many years the highest per capita wealth of any settlement of its size in the country as fixed net fishing of salmon in the Columbia decimated the fish runs. A fish conservation act in 1934, outlawing the use of fixed gear in Washington waters changed both the survival of the fish runs and the economy of the town.
Numerous examples of both domestic and religious architecture, while marked by time, underscore the wealth once present in Chinook.