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About Saint Helens

St. Helens is the county seat of Columbia County, Oregon. It was founded by Captain H. M. Knighton, a native of New England in 1845 as Plymouth. The name of the community was changed to St. Helens in the later part of 1850, after the view of Mount St. Helens across the Columbia River in Washington.

St. Helens is a deep-water seaport, and is eighteen miles upstream of Rainier, Oregon, and just downstream of where the Multnomah Channel merges into the Columbia River. The community lies within the Scappoose Bay watershed. Downstream is Deer Island, the small community of Goble, Prescott Beach, and the location of the former Trojan Nuclear Facility. Upstream is Sauvie Island. Across the river on the Washington side the mouth of the Lewis River enters the Columbia a mile upstream. Lewis and Clark passed through the area in 1805 and referred to the rocky cliffs on which would eventually border the town of St. Helens.

St. Helens is located in southeastern Columbia County, on the Columbia River, approximately 30 miles northwest of Portland, Oregon. There are many City Parks in Saint Helens. Near the riverfront, the Old Town portion of St. Helens features a Nationally Registered Historic District encompassing 10 blocks, which includes residences and civic buildings dating back nearly a century. Originally settled by New England loggers, St. Helens' basalt rock quarry was also a major industry in the early 1900s. Major employers today include forest products, mining, and manufacturing operations.

According to the Portland State University Population Research Center, the Certified Census Figure as of April 1, 2000, is 10,019. The Certified Population Estimate as of July 1, 2005 is 11,640.


St. Helens was established as a river port on the Columbia River in the 1840s, and was the primary deep-water port, surpassing Portland, until the destruction of the mail docks by fire. The docks burned down twice under mysterious circumstances. Portland then became the primary port. It was incorporated as a city in 1889.

In 1854 F. M. Warren erected a large steam sawmill and began producing lumber for the homes and other buildings of the settlers. Rainier was incorporated in 1885.

St. Helens, Oregon, was first called "Plymouth" by founder Henry M. Knighton, a mariner from New England who immigrated to the area in 1845. Oregon Geographic Names (McArthur and McArthur, 2003) states "Plymouth" was used in print in 1847 and 1848, and "New Plymouth" appeared in print in 1849. Then the name gets confusing. Oregon Geographic Names goes on to state that in August 1849 Knighton signed a deed in which he refers to "Plymouth and now called Kasenau", after Chief Cassino, a prominent native in the area. However eight months later, in April 1850, Knighton again used the name "Plymouth" as he established the "Plymouth Post Office" with himself as postmaster. Yet one month later Knighton refers to "Casenau now called St. Helens". "St. Helens" stuck. In November 1850 the post office was renamed "St. Helen" with William H. Tappan as postmaster. The missing "s" was later corrected and the post office became "St. Helens".


Campbell Park: Includes two picnic shelters with charcoal cookers, a playground, 2 ball fields, concession stands, 4 tennis courts, 1 cemented and fenced activity area and restrooms.

Civic Pride Park: Includes a picnic shelter with charcoal cookers, playground and a restroom.

Columbia Botanical Gardens: Includes a nature trail.

Columbia View Park: Columbia River frontage with a Gazebo that has Electricity. The park also includes a playground, handicapped-access viewing platform, commemorative brick courtyard, picnic tables, restrooms with showers and floral plantings.

Godfrey Park: Includes a picnic shelter with charcoal cookers, playground, horseshoe court and chemical toilet.

Heinie Heumann Park:Includes picnic tables, playground and chemical toilet.

Highway 30 Greenway:This is a 5.3 acre strip, 35 feet wide and has a landscaped area. There are pathways and benches.

Little League Park: Includes 2 multi-purpose athletic fields with dugouts, seating and removable goalposts. Restrooms and 2 concession stands.

McCormick Park:Milton Creek runs through the park. The Park includes 2 softball fields, restrooms with showers and concession stands, a sand volleyball court, skateboard park, playground, picnic areas, fitness trail that is 1.5 mils with exercise stations and nature trails. It also has a Japanese Garden and landscaped areas, a Veterans Memorial and overnight camping.

Sand Island Marine Park:This Park is a manmade Island in the Columbia River with concrete docks, access ramp, picnic shelter, 37 overnight campsites, restrooms, nature trails, swimming/sunbathing beaches and volleyball anchor posts.


Saint Helens Public Library

Warrior Rock Lighthouse: Built in 1889 and was originally a small two story structure atop a sandstone foundation. The single room first floor served as the keeper's quarters. The second floor was primarily a covered half deck housing the lens lantern and fog bell. Eventually, a house and barn were added to the property. The bell has the distinction of being the oldest fog bell in the Pacific Northwest. Cast in Philadelphia in 1855, the bell was first used at Cape Disappointment at the mouth of the Columbia River. The winds, land contour, and roaring seas made it difficult to hear the bell, so the bell was replaced and moved to the West Point Lighthouse in Puget Sound before eventually ending up at Warrior Rock in 1889. Light keeper Frank DeRoy, who served in the 1920s, nicknamed the bell "Black Moria" because the striking mechanism would often break and he would have to ring the bell manually for hours.


Saint Helens School District

McBride Elementary | Columbia City 6th Grade Campus | Lewis and Clark Intermediate| St Helens Middle School| St Helens High School


City Of Saint Helens

Saint Helens Public Library

Click here for aerial view of Saint Helens-Interactive

Click here for bigger interactive map of Saint Helens

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