The seat of Clark County and oldest settlement in the State, is strategically located on the navigable lower Columbia River, north of Portland, Oregon, in an important agricultural region, within 40 miles of Bonneville Dam. Lumber and paper mills, docks, grain elevators, and canneries are concentrated on the riverside; a little farther back are breweries and other industrial concerns. The streets leading from the banks of the Columbia through the business section are flanked by modern brick and terra-cotta structures, intermingled with buildings reminiscent of the late nineteenth century or of the jerry-building of boom days. In the residential districts are old but substantially constructed houses.
Traversing the city is the Pacific Highway (US 99), east of which is the military reservation, Vancouver Barracks. North and east of the city, streets meander through prune orchards, which spread over the surrounding hills and valleys and extend to the fir and hemlock forests. To the south, across the broad river, rise the green hills of Oregon; to the southeast, the white cone of Mount Hood; and to the north, the smaller but equally beautiful Mount St. Helens. Lewis and Clark, who camped near the mouth of the Lewis River below Sauvies Island in November 1805, describe in their Journal their view of the peak some 70 miles upstream: “Three miles below the Image Canoe Island… we had a full view of the mountain … [Mount St. Helens]; it rises in the form of a sugar loaf to a great height, and is covered with snow.”