Near Clatskanie in Columbia County, Oregon — The American West (Northwest)
"Captain" John West and Westport, Oregon
Born in 1809, John West immigrated to Quebec where he married and started a family while apprenticing as a millwright. In 1849 he left his family and job to search for gold in California. A year later, with little gold to show for his efforts, he arrived in Astoria and went to work using his knowledge and skills as a millwright.
In 1853, West and his wife Margaret took up a 640-acre Donation Land Claim along the lower Columbia River upon which he soon began construction of a water-powered sawmill. West built a steam-powered sawmill in the early 1860s, and by 1868 he was exporting lumber to
The West family sold the mill in the early 1900s. The Westport Lumber Company continued production there until February 1956, when it became uneconomical to operate the mill due to a scarcity logs of sufficient size.
John West also exported salmon from as early as 1857. The first fish West processed were salted, packed in barrels, then shipped to California, where they were loaded on sailing ships and sent around Cape Horn to East Coast ports, and then on to Great Britain. In 1868, West entered into partnership with several others to found the Westport Cannery, the first on the Oregon shore of the Columbia River. The cannery packed 22,000 cases of salmon during the 1873 season and in October of that year won a gold medal from the Oregon Agricultural Society. Salmon canning peaked in the 1880s with 39 canneries in 1883, supported by 1,700 commercial fishing boats along the Columbia River.
West invented an automated can-filling machine and was the first on the lower Columbia River to make use of salmon waste for oil and fishmeal by-products. He also experimented with canning beef, mutton, and blackberries to keep the machinery and workers busy during the salmon off-season. West's brand label for canned foods lives on today as John West Foods Ltd. of Liverpool, England. As a subsidiary of the H.J. Heinz Company, it sells canned fish, fruit, vegetables, and meat all over the world.
"Captain" John West died in 1888 at the age of 79 and is buried in the West family plot at the Westport Cemetery.
Thank you to Bryan C. Aalberg, fourth great-grandson of "Captain" John West, for creation of this marker.
Erected by Oregon Travel Experience.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Communications • Industry & Commerce • Settlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the Oregon Beaver Boards series list.
Location. 46° 10.284′ N, 123° 26.19′ W. Marker is near Clatskanie, Oregon, in Columbia County. Marker can be reached from Columbia River Highway (U.S. 30) near Clifton/Shingle Mill Road, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Clatskanie OR 97016, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 3 other markers are within 15 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Cathlamet (approx. 3.3 miles away in Washington); Ahlberg Park (approx. 14.4 miles away in Washington); Grays River Covered Bridge (approx. 14˝ miles away in Washington).
More about this marker. This marker is located at Bradley State Scenic Viewpoint.
Also see . . . Oregon Travel Experience - "Captain" John West . (Submitted on February 2, 2018, by Douglass Halvorsen of Klamath Falls, Oregon.)
Credits. This page was last revised on December 3, 2019. It was originally submitted on February 2, 2018, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 101 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on February 2, 2018, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.