The History of Packwood Station

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Our 
Story

Packwood Station was originally the Packwood Ranger Station of The Gifford Pinchot National Forest. In 2008, it was sold during a push to decommission underutilized facilities to reduce fixed maintenance costs. 

Prehistoric Native American use of the local area has been documented through a number of archaeological investigations, and demonstrates use of the Packwood vicinity as early as 5,000 to 7,000 years ago. Early occupants of the Cowlitz River valley were highly mobile foraging people who did not make extensive use of food preservation or storage and did not build permanent shelters or settlements. Between about 4,000 years ago and 2,500 years ago adaptations shifted toward greater reliance on mass harvest and storage of key resources, particularly anadromous fish. At the same time, there was an increase in the use of more sedentary residences and the establishment of village settlements. Historical research and traditional knowledge indicate that the general area was home to a band of Taidnapam, or Upper Cowlitz people during the middle to late 19th century. Several sources indicate that a small settlement, known as cawacas, existed near the mouth of Skate Creek about a mile west of the subject property circa 1860-1870. Taidnapam descendants are today members of both the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation.

Forest Service administrative use of the property began officially on October 1, 1928, the effective date of a lease agreement between the Menasha Woodenware Company and the U.S. Government. For an annual rental fee of $75.00, the Forest Service obtained use of the tract for the exclusive purpose of establishing a ranger station. The lease included an option to purchase the property. Funds were allocated in 1928 for initial construction of facilities on the property.

Buildings existing on the administrative site essentially represent two distinct phases of agency history. The earliest buildings (1929-1935) are associated with local administration of the national forest during the Great Depression, World War II, and the initial post-war period, often characterized as a period of “custodial” management of forest resources. Later buildings (1954-1964) are associated with the post-war shift toward intensive forest management and large-scale extraction of timber resources.