Chinook was originally established by the Chinook Indians and later became a wealthy town based on the rich salmon fishery at the mouth of the mighty Columbia river. There was no road connection to Ilwaco until 1891, when the bridge was completed across the Chinook River. Later, the Ilwaco Railway and Navigation Company, built a narrow gauge railroad from Megler to Ilwaco, passing down the main street of Chinook.  The Clamshell Railroad, “Ran with the Tide”.  The railroad was dismantled in 1931.

The town has remained a fishing village and is the site of a busy port on the Columbia River.

Chinook is home to Fort Columbia State Park where the interpretive center features artifacts from the Chinook history, as well as restored historic barracks, gun emplacements and batteries. The park also features Vacation Rentals and a challenging trail system with spectacular views of the Astoria-Megler Bridge, and the Columbia River as it empties into the Pacific Ocean.

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