Our Coast Magazine 2018:OC18
ST. MARY MCGOWAN
PORT OF ILWACO ILWACO, WASHINGTON
on’t turn to take the short-cut to Long Beach on Alternate Highway 101. Stay straight on regular old Highway 101 until you reach Ilwaco. Turn left on Elizabeth Ave S.E. and follow signs to the Port. Ilwaco is at the end of one branch of Highway 101. Another fishing town, its waterfront has undergone some major renovations in the last couple of years. The marina has always been a busy place with several charter companies in operation, a fleet of commercial boats and numerous sport and pleasure boats. Jessie’s Ilwaco Fish Company continues to provide business for a number of local fishermen and has a small store.
The St. Mary McGowan church is still in use to this day during certain months of the year.
t. Mary McGowan looks both adrift on the side of the highway and perfectly at home. Built in 1904, the pale blue-gray church at 354 U.S. Highway 101 seems to reflect the moods of the Columbia River that stretches in front of it and rests near what was once a Chinook Indian village and is now known as the Station Camp site. The area’s history is commemorated with interpretative signs and a looping walking trail that leads off from a parking lot on the church’s west side.
CHINOOK fter St. Mary’s, be sure to take some time to wander around Chinook. Neither city nor town, this is one of the few places at the mouth of the Columbia River where “fishing village” is still perhaps the best descriptor, and 101 serves as the main street. Chinook is dominated by the fishing industry. During the summer, anglers flock here to launch for the popular Buoy 10 salmon fishery. During the winter and spring, crabbing boats come and go from the tiny Port of Chinook and Bell Buoy Crab Company. Watch for signs for the historic Sea Resources fish hatchery as you head north through town. A small operation run by a single caretaker, the hatchery is not always open but remains a good spot to stretch your legs and read up on local history. In recent years, a new pub and restaurant have opened up here right off 101, providing more reasons to linger in this small community.