Parker’s Landing Historical Park
Located adjacent to the Marina Park, Parker’s Landing Historical Park commemorates David C. Parker, on whose Donation Land Claim this site is located. (For the history, see ‘Van Vleet Historical Plaza,’ below.)
Parkersville National Historic Site Advisory Committee
Van Vleet Historical Plaza
This plaza commemorates the Van Vleet family who once lived on this site. On May 13, 2004, two bronze plaques were unveiled in the "Van Vleet Historical Plaza." One plaque lists the major contributors to construction of the Plaza, and the other displays the history of the Van Vleet family and shows the legend for the symbols on each engraved brick.
Local history is reflected by the names engraved in the plaza bricks, beginning at the eastern end with the very earliest people, the Chinook Indians — followed by explorers, fur traders, and the Michael T. Simmons party who sojourned at this site in late 1844 until the fall of 1845. These are followed by the names of those who held Donation Land Claims and Homesites. Those who settled East Clark County in 1889 or before are considered East Clark County Pioneers, and many of their descendants are also memorialized in the Plaza. In addition, present-day people, businesses, churches, and organizations have been invited to “Make History” by having a brick inscribed with their names and the year of arrival or establishment.
David C. Parker, on whose Donation Land Claim this site is located, platted the town of Parkersville in 1854. When Parker died in 1858, Lewis Van Vleet was appointed the second administrator of Parker’s estate, the first having moved. Later Van Vleet bought part of Parker’s land, operated Parker’s ferry business, and filed a new Parkersville plat on April 18, 1878. Lewis Van Vleet, who established a DLC (Donation Land Claim) in Fern Prairie, was a U.S. Deputy Surveyor and Clark County Representative in the Territorial Senate.
Van Vleet’s Daughter, Louisa Van Vleet Spicer Wright , was one of the first women doctors in the state of Washington. She was born in 1862 at her parents’ “Oak Grove Farm” in Fern Prairie. In 1885 she graduated from medical school Ann Arbor, Michigan. The land on which this park is located was given to Louisa by her father.
In 1901, Louisa married James W. Wright, a widower. About seven years after Dr. Wright’s tragic death in 1913, her son Cecil Van Vleet (born a Spicer) began residing on his mother’s property. Between 1929 and 1931, Cecil took legal action to re-establish the Parkersville plat, the original having been destroyed by the 1890 fire in the Clark County Court House. Cecil did not live permanently at Parker’s Landing, but he returned in the 1950’s to remain until his death in 1977. After three generations of Van Vleets being involved in the property, it was sold in 1968 to the Port of Camas/Washougal with the hopes that it would become a park.
The Parker's Landing Park Advisory Committee was formed in 1985 as a subcommittee of the Port, to advise the Commission on development of the Park. As outlined above, development has included a Kiosk with interpretive panels, the Rose Arbor, and the Van Vleet Historical Plaza.
In October 2009, after a year-long process, the Port adopted Resolution 3-09 authorizing the execution of a Declaration of Restrictive Covenants relating to property in and around the Parkersville Historical Site. The Restrictive Covenants offer a layer of protection for the property against future development. An additional layer of protection was added in 2010 by way of a zoning change to "Institutional Public."
“The Chinook Plaza, as well as the Tayi rock, the native planting bed, the interpretive panels, and the pondless waterfall surrounded by native plants, are the fulfillment of the original intent of those who were involved in planning the development of Parker’s Landing Historical Park when it was dedicated and opened on June 1, 1986. In addition to relating local history, one of the wishes of those early members, as well as current members, was to commemorate the Chinook Indians who had inhabited this area, who had left behind many artifacts, some of which are still being found today, and who deserve to be honored, remembered, and imitated for their respect for Mother Earth.” [From the September 12, 2009 Dedication Ceremony.]
Three years later, on September 20, 2012, members of the Parkersville National Historic Site Advisory Committee (PNHSAC) formally unveiled three interpretive panels -- describing local plant use, Chinook Indian artifacts and the local Chinookan royal family -- at a ceremony that began with a traditional Chinookan blessing given by Sam Robinson, Vice Chairman of the Chinook Nation. Between 50 and 100 people turned out for the formal unveiling of the long-awaited interpretive panels which, according to PNHSAC President, Bruce Fuerstenberg, are the finishing touch to the Chinook Plaza in Parker’s Landing Historical Park.