Then and Now: Parker’s Landing Historical Park Events
Camas-Washougal, WA – The development of Parker’s Landing Historical Park at the Port of Camas-Washougal has been and continues to be a collaborative, community effort which includes a history of special events and dedications. Currently it is the site of the annual Parkersville Day held on the first Saturday in June, from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm celebrating local history.
The Parkersville Site in Washougal was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 11, 1976. Nearly 10 years later, a 25.4-ton rock was moved there for a Department of the Interior plaque to be mounted upon. The plaque was unveiled at the opening of Parker’s Landing Historical Park and Archaeological Site on June 1, 1986.
John Buchholz, and E. Snoey landscaped an arrowhead design planter framing the boulder plaque display. Jeff Buchholz, grandson of John, attended the park opening. “All I remember about the opening was standing next to Grandma Ester,” Jeff Buchholz recalls. “She told me how proud she was that Grandpa worked so hard on the landscaping of the park. I didn’t notice that the planter was shaped like an arrowhead until she pointed it out to me. At that time, I was only 10.”
Jeff Buchholz now serves on the Parkersville National Historic Site Advisory Committee to the Port (PAC) and the Parkersville Heritage Foundation (PHF). His grandfather served on the initial Parkersville Site Development Committee (PSDC). The PSDC, now operating as PAC, is a permanent committee established under the authority of the Camas-Washougal Port Commission to protect and preserve the Parkersville National Historic Site and to design and continue to develop the 3.88-acre site known as the Parker’s Landing Historical Park.
Washington became a state on November 11, 1889, the only state named after a U.S. president. A Centennial Commission was established in 1982 by a state law act to organize, fund, and coordinate events, artwork, and publications.
Big news for the park arrived on December 13, 1988, in the Camas-Washougal Post Record which read, “The Washington State Centennial Committee and the Washington Centennial Committee of Clark County have certified and approved four centennial projects to be constructed upon the historical site.”
Soroptimist International Club of Camas-Washougal implemented the plans for Centennial Project #1, the Old Silo Base, on September 14, 1988. A bronze plaque with the State Centennial logo engraved on it was donated by the Soroptimists and mounted on a rock in the center of the Old Silo Base planter. The planter continues to host beautiful flowers and is managed by the local Soroptimists.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held for Centennial Project #2, the Rose Arbor, on November 11, 1989, and was completed in January 1990 by members of the PUD and Kiwanis. They were led by Michael O’Hearne. A new wooden sign for the historical park, visible from the highway, was erected in September 1998, made possible by Port and PHF shared funding.
The third centennial project was the marking of the VanVleet homestead structure. The Van Vleet Plaza, where the 100-year-old historic home once stood, was dedicated in 2002.
Long-term PAC Member and Secretary/Treasurer, David Parker, continues to advocate for the fourth centennial project, a view structure, which has not been completed. Over the years, the PAC has discussed adding a replica of the Parker’s Landing maritime light, a project once pursued by park founder, and former PAC member, Rosalee Macrae.
Eight new historic interpretive panels inside a wood kiosk were dedicated in 1997 and in 1999, the Community Garden Club (CGC) planted a pink dogwood tree near the west side of the park. They placed a granite plaque in the grass nearby honoring decades of volunteer gardening in the park by members.
When the Chinook Plaza was dedicated in 2009, long-term president of the PAC, Bruce Fuerstenberg, engraved the stone Chinook Chiefs Tayi, and provided the transportation of it. His family company, Vancouver Granite Works, Inc. was owned by his parents before him, and now by his son. The company engraved all the bricks that are throughout Van Vleet Plaza and waterfall area. The first bricks placed in the plaza tell local history with names of Chinook chiefs, Donation Land Claim and later Homestead owners and the year they arrived in the area.
In 2022 a new annual Parkersville Day was launched, to be held annually on the first Saturday in June. It will be held June 3, 2023 from 12 pm to 3 pm. This free, family friendly event celebrates local history, with a look back at the historic town of Parkersville in 1854, and the grand events there in 1878-1880. The event features a Chinook blessing, storytellers, historic displays, 1800s games and prizes, ice cream, a park-themed art contest, band music from the 1800s, and, in 2023, a new Parkersville Day song played by Washougal High School Band with band teacher, Dave Duarte, conducting. Mark your calendars now.
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