Washougal reopens dock at Steamboat Landing Park after major renovations

Complete replacement of dock and structure soon to be followed by observation deck  

WASHOUGAL — Ever since the first settlers began developing the area now known as Washougal’s waterfront, there has been a connection between the city and the river.

In days and centuries past, the connection has been vibrant, with docks floating offshore bringing steamboats and passengers to and from the area. Even today, long after the extinction of the steamboat service, the docks are a place of community and beauty with fishing, kayaking and wildlife viewing.

Washougal residents gathered on Tuesday for the official ribbon cutting of the new dock at Steamboat Landing Park. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Washougal residents gathered on Tuesday for the official ribbon cutting of the new dock at Steamboat Landing Park. Photo by Jacob Granneman

The time for replacement and upgrades, however, came for the city of Washougal this year, and a complete overhaul of Steamboat Landing Park’s pier was completed this week, on July 2.

The city of Washougal reopened the dock at Steamboat Landing Park with an official ribbon cutting after major renovation and replacement of the aged floating walkway and pilings. Now, replacement of the observation deck and park access on the horizon.

“It gets a lot of use, and with things today you can’t just come in and throw things together. It has to be engineered,” said Shirley Scott of the Washougal Parks Board Commission. “They found that the pilings were rotted, so that raised the price; they all had to come out and be redone.”   

The project cost approximately $1.5 million, with half secured through insurance pay-out with the city, and the other half supplied by state funding.

The dock, pilings, and additional infrastructure connecting the gangway to the observation deck were all replaced or overhauled. Photo by Jacob Granneman
The dock, pilings, and additional infrastructure connecting the gangway to the observation deck were all replaced or overhauled. Photo by Jacob Granneman

Artwork and some of the structure was paid for through donations on the part of several residents, including Mayor Molly Coston. 

“It’s wonderful, with personal interactions that I’ve had with people, this has been the one project that everybody loves,” Coston said. “It’s just for community, and families, and for people to come down and hang out. And it reconnects us to the river.” 

The new dock features all of the amenities of its predecessor, with a few upgrades. The surface is a composite grate instead of wood, allowing for a healthier fish population and longer lasting materials.

New benches have been installed along the walkway, and fishing is not only allowed but encouraged. Kayak launch areas are accessible, and the area allows for any watercraft that can be “carried in.”

Artwork representing the long history of steamboats along the shores of Washougal now sits above the observation deck at Steamboat Landing Park. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Artwork representing the long history of steamboats along the shores of Washougal now sits above the observation deck at Steamboat Landing Park. Photo by Jacob Granneman

In the near future, the city plans to redo the observation deck as well, and at the same time retrofit the access trail with ADA accommodations, said Scott and Coston. 

The current observation deck is of wood construction, and as it decays further, could become a hazard. Coston stressed the importance of heading off those hazards by upgrading the other well used component of Steamboat Landing Park.

When replacement of the deck occurs, the understructure supporting it, will also be overhauled for safety and durability.

“I don’t think there’s very many places along the western part of the Columbia River where you can actually walk right down and dangle your feet in the water or throw out a fishing line,” Coston said. “So it’s really a very nice part of the community.”

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About The Author

Jacob Granneman is a filmmaker and writer from Clark County. He is a recent graduate of Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College, where he studied media production. He has produced documentary stories all over the Pacific Northwest and in Argentina. His passions range from loving people, to cinematography, to going on adventures in the most beautiful place on earth, i.e. his backyard. He lives with his wife in Vancouver, WA.

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