Puget Island, WA
Sons of Norway Helgeland Lodge
444 State Route 4, Puget Island,
Cathlamet WA 98612
Norwegians were the first Puget Island Settlers. They soon formed the Sons of Norway Helgeland Lodge and built the Norse Hall in 1937, to create a place to meet and dance! Traditional Scandinavian events are still enjoyed here. The structure is 40 x 85 Feet, and two stories. It features a dining area, kitchen, stage and dance floor. Available for Weddings, Reunions, Memorials and limited rentals.
For years our community has used the SonsOf Norway’s Norse Hall to host several of our local events. Class reunions, weddings, family gatherings, and of course the Famous Chamber Crab and Oyster Feed.
Wahkiakum County Ferry
The last operating toll passenger ferry on the Lower Columbia River and upriver link to the Columbia-Pacific Scenic Drive Loop. Operating 7 days a week and departs every hour on the hour from 5:00 am to 10:00 PM from Puget Island to Westport, OR (SR30) with returns at 15 minutes past the hour. Click here for the schedule.
Directions: From SR4, turn onto Main St in Cathlamet, drive through town, across the bridge and go three miles on Hwy 409 leading you to the ferry landing.
Leaving Cathlamet across the Hansen Bridge you will find the Orient community of Puget Island. Famous for its wonderful farm land and many sloughs and boat houses for local recreational and commercial fisherman.
In August 1939, Wahkiakum County’s Julia Butler Hansen Bridge is completed. Located in Southwest Washington just a few miles upriver from the mouth of the Columbia, it is called the Puget Island-Cathlamet Bridge, and carries Secondary State Highway 12F (renamed in 1964 to State Route 409) across the channel between Cathlamet and Puget Island. A ferry on the other side of the island carries traffic across the river’s main channel to reach Westport, Oregon. The bridge will be renamed to honor Julia Butler Hansen (1907-1988), a state representative from 1939 to 1960, a U.S. representative from 1960 to 1974, and a major figure in the development of the state’s highway and ferry system.
First Lutheran Church
The First Lutheran Church was originally located on land donated between Welcome Slough and Ostervold Road. The building had been a cookhouse at a logging camp called New Jerusalem (now called Wauna) on the Oregon side of the river. It was floated over on logs. In 1915 it was moved into Welcome Slough which was an easier place to get to. In 1929 the sanctuary was added. Originally it faced the slough for boat travel as there were no dikes.
Buffington Park and Heritage Area:
Visitors enjoy Lewis and Clark info along with watching the Ferry traveling to Oregon and back
Jasper’s Store, Puget Island located at 176 State Route 409, near the intersection with East Sunny Sands, next to the ferry landing on Puget Island. Built in 1919 according to Jim Barton from Wauna Mill Lumber. An apartment was in the back, and a boarding house was upstairs. Gillnet boats would tie up on the three sides of the building. The Bartons bought the store in the 1940s.Photo taken prior to 1938. Courtesy Wahkiakum County Historical Society Collection
History of Puget Island
In October 1792, British explorer Lieutenant Broughton became the first white man to see this island, which he named for Lieutenant Peter Puget. Thirteen years later on their famous expedition, Lewis and Clark referred to it as both Sturgeon Island and Sea Otter Island.
Norwegians Johanes and Frances Ostervold were the first to establish permanent residence. Gradually people began to settle here to farm and fish. So many were Norwegians that the island became known as “Little Norway”. Dikes were completed in 1917 to keep the spring freshets from inundating the land.
The first road opened in 1925 to connect the two ferries, the Westport and the Cathlamet. The grange hall was built in 1928, the Norse hall in 1938. The bridge to Cathlamet was completed in 1939.
The island is 3 miles wide and 7 miles long, nearly 5,000 acres, and the largest island in the county. Population in 2000 was 800.
Make sure you see the two Lutheran Churches, the first was completed in 1929 on Welcome Slough and second, located on the Main Highway, was built in 1938 in a wood Gothic design.
Julia Butler Hansen bridge from Cathlamet waterfront, November 2005 HistoryLink.org photo by Kit Oldham
Svensen Park and Boat Launch
The new Svensen Park and Boat Launch is very active during fishing season. Many anglers choose this launch because it is so close to the Main River Channel. Future plans for a picnic area, full service restrooms and a Fish Cleaning station are in the works.
Located on the South side of Puget Island on West Sunny Sands Road is Svensen Park. Located in the park is a new boat launch and plenty of parking for your trailer. Enjoy a picnic and watch the local fishermen come and go. For more info contact 360-795-8605