Wahkiakum County (wuh-Ki-uh-kuhm), the 2nd smallest county in Washington based on population, was created by the territorial legislature in 1854. The name comes from a Kathlamet Indian village located on the north bank of the Columbia River near the present town of Cathlamet. Chief Wakaiyakam, whose name the village took, is buried in Pioneer Cemetery in Cathlamet. Wahkiakum means "tall timber" in Chinook.
Cathlamet, county seat of Wahkiakum County, got its name from the Kathlamet Indians, a Chinook tribe. The tribal name comes from the Chinook word "calamet," meaning "stone" and was given to the tribe because they lived along a stretch of rocky river bed. Cathlamet was sighted in 1792 by Lt. W.R. Broughton, while verifying Capt. Robert Gray’s reported discovery of the Columbia River. In 1805, the Lewis & Clark Expedition found the Kathlamet and Wahkiakum tribes living here during their Northwest Expedition and they camped at the present day Vista Park in Skamokawa where they traded with the Indians. James Birnie of Hudson Bay Company settled here in 1846 and named the area Birnie’s Retreat. The name was later changed to Cathlamet in 1851. Other communities in Wahkiakum County include Puget Island, Skamokawa, Grays River, Rosburg, and Deep River.
According to the April 2005 Population Statistics, the Wahkiakum County population is 3,901. Town of Cathlamet population: 565, Elochoman Valley Population: 922, Puget Island population: 798, Skamokawa population: 519, and Grays River/Rosburg/Deep River population: 1,020.