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Wahkiakum County lies near the mouth of the Columbia River in southwest Washington. It is named for the Wahkiakums, as the people whose villages once occupied the area were called by the explorers, traders, and settlers who arrived in the early nineteenth century.
Cathlamet, the county seat and only incorporated town, is named for a related group who founded it some time before the Birnie family, the county's first pioneers, settled there in 1846. The Washington Territorial Legislature established Wahkiakum County in 1854.