Tucked along the north bank of the Columbia River, just east of Camas, Washougal marks the western entrance to the world-famous Columbia River Gorge. It was at modern Washougal that the first British exploration party seeking the headwaters of the Columbia stopped in the 1790s. The party sighted Mt. Hood – as can modern visitors to Washougal – and gave the peak the name it bears to this day (the mountain is named for a British admiral). That journey began the opening of the Columbia basin to European trade and, eventually, settlement, a process accelerated when Lewis and Clark visited the region (arriving from the opposite direction) just over a decade later.
The modern city of Washougal, now home to around 14,000 people, had its beginnings as a fur trading settlement in the decades prior to the Civil War, taking its name from a native American word meaning “rushing water.” The city’s economy was long built on a mix of dairy farming and logging, a fact well-documented in Washougal’s Two Rivers Heritage Museum (the name comes from the city’s location at the confluence of the Columbia and Washougal rivers).
Today, a significant amount of Washougal’s commercial activity is concentrated in the Port of Camas-Washougal, which serves both cities. More than 1000 people are employed by some three dozen businesses at this combination Marina-Airport-Industrial Park. With Portland barely a half-hour drive away in one direction and the recreational opportunities of the Columbia River Gorge on one’s doorstep in the opposite direction, Washougal does, indeed, enjoy a charmed location. It is also a community whose legal needs are well-served by Matthew Kaplan’s office 50 SW Pine St 3rd Floor, Portland.
The port activity that is so important to Washougal carries with it many risks for the surrounding community, particularly from the large trucks that regularly move in and out of the port area. Data compiled by the Washington Department of Transportation for 2010 indicates that Clark County, which includes Washougal, has a noticeably higher motor vehicle accident rate than surrounding areas: 1.43 collisions per one million vehicle miles, versus 1.35 in neighboring Skamania County and 1.29 in Cowlitz County. In 2010 alone there were 23 Clark County fatal collisions and 135 collisions that resulted in injuries.
Heavy trucks alone accounted for an alarming number of accidents in the state in that year. According to Washington’s Department of Transportation:
- Total heavy-truck involved collisions: 2971
- Total number of trucks involved: 3092
- Fatal collisions: 22 (23 fatalities overall)
- Serious injury collisions: 56 (resulting in 64 serious injuries)
- Truck collisions involving property damage: 2324
Numbers like these remind us of the importance of safety when it comes to the operation of large, dangerous vehicles. Mathew Kaplan’s experience helping families cope with the aftermath of Washington heavy truck accidents and obtain justice through our courts can offer important peace of mind during difficult times.
Licensed to practice in both Oregon and Washington, Matthew Kaplan’s office in downtown Portland is a short drive from Washougal. Matthew Kaplan’s office is located at 50 SW Pine St 3rd Floor, Portland, OR 97204. We look forward to seeing you. Call (503) 226-3844 for an appointment.