About Columbia County

Columbia County is bordered on the east by the Columbia River, on the south by Multnomah County and Washington County, and on the west by Clatsop County. The southern County line is approximately 30 minutes from Portland, the largest metropolitan area in Oregon. The western County line is approximately 30 minutes from the Pacific coast.

The County's northern and eastern boundaries are outlined by 62 miles of Columbia River shoreline. Columbia County enjoys the longest stretch of the Columbia River in the State of Oregon. The Columbia River is a major route of ocean-going vessels and is a popular fishing ground, as well as a popular boating and windsurfing river.

Facts regarding the early history of Columbia County are few. It is known that a New England trading vessel, the Columbia Rediviva, commanded by Captain Robert Gray arrived in the summer of 1792 with the first Euro-Americans to see the County's timbered shoreline. In 1805, the explorers Lewis and Clark traveled and camped along the County's Columbia River shoreline.

Carved out of Washington County in 1854, its past was tied to commercial fishing, water transportation, and lumber. Industrialization has accelerated in recent years but timber, dairy, and horticulture remain important. Natural gas fields have been identified and are producing.

The County offers the only two marine parks in Oregon: Sand Island on the Columbia River and J.J. Collins Memorial Marine Park on the Multnomah Channel.

County Information

  • County Seat: City of Saint Helens
  • County Courthouse
  • 230 Strand Street, St. Helens, OR 97051-0010
  • General Information: 1-888-397-7210

Key Contacts/Elected Officials

  • County Commissioners: Margaret Magruder, Kellie Jo Smith, and Casey Garrett
  • Assessor: Andrea Jurkiewicz
  • County Clerk: Debbie Klug
  • County Sheriff: Brian Pixley
  • County Treasurer: MaryAnn Guess
  • District Attorney: Jeff Auxier
  • Justice of the Peace: Diana Taylor

Helpful Resources

Key Facts

  • Established: January 16, 1854
  • Elevation at St. Helens: 42 feet above sea level
  • Area: 657 square miles
  • Average temperatures: January: 39.0 degrees / July: 68.4 degrees
  • Population: 48,140 (July 1, 2009 estimate)
  • Assessed Value: $3,600,194,790
  • Principal Industries: Agriculture, Lumber, Fishing, Tourism

Directions to Courthouse

  • From Highway 30 in St. Helens turn onto Columbia Blvd. heading East towards the Columbia River.
  • Continue approximately 1.5 miles and turn right onto South 1st Street.
  • Go approximately 0.1 miles and turn left onto St. Helens Street.
  • Continue straight ahead into the parking lot for the County Courthouse, which will be on the right. 
  • The parking lot is between the River and the Courthouse.

Points of Interest

  • Paper mill at St. Helens
  • Lewis & Clark Bridge at Rainier
  • Lower Sauvie Island Game Reserve
  • County Fairgrounds
  • County Museums in St. Helens and Vernonia
  • County Parks