Wood Village Information
Wood Village History
The Chinook were the first native people to inhabit the hills along the Columbia River. Hundreds thrived in the village of Nechacokee (now referred to as Nichagwli- “nee chalk lee” ) located near today’s Blue Lake Park. They gathered huckleberries and cedar bark for making baskets, fished, and traveled by cedar canoe. They were annihilated by smallpox and malaria by the 1820’s.
In 1887, George and Hannah Shaw, both English immigrants, built the two-story farmhouse that still stands on the northeast corner of 238th Drive and NE Halsey Street. It now serves as the Wood Village Manor Nursing Home. The Shaws came to Oregon from Missouri to help build the transcontinental rail link eastward through the Columbia River Gorge. Their lone house, located on 208 acres, marked the place in the road from which Wood Village would spring.
Stephen A. Arata, an Italian immigrant and the largest liquor distributor in Oregon, bought the Shaw house in 1907. He renovated the property with electricity, pillars, and other frills, and added fields of oats and vineyards to create his country estate. By 1926, the property also served as an electric interurban railway stop known as Arata station.
Wood Village sprang to life on 50 acres of farmland around the Arata Estate in 1942 to house workers from the Reynolds Aluminum Factory during World War II. W. C. Bauman constructed 183 homes and 264 temporary apartments. One of the first planned communities in Oregon was born complete with single and multi-family housing, streets, stores, a water system, a sewage treatment plant, street lights, and a community building. The temporary apartments are gone now, but the Original Village (see plat map) and the community building, which serves as City Hall, are still vital parts of the community.
Wood Village was incorporated in 1951 to meet the needs for regular city services. Since then, it has grown to include the residential Upper Village, a large variety of commercial and industrial enterprises, and a diverse community of 3,905 citizens within 1 square mile. Its crown jewel is the Donald L. Robertson Community Park which was named in 2001 for a past mayor who served 22 years on the City Council. “I’ve said it many times,” Robertson is quoted, “this is one of the best little cities in the country.”
Special thanks to Sharon Nesbitt and Chuck Rollins for their contributions towards maintaining the Wood Village historical record.