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The Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Complex lies between the town and the powerful Columbia River three miles to the west.
While in earlier times Ridgefield weathered periods of very slow growth and economic stagnation, in more recent years it has seen rapid development as more people are drawn by its rustic charm, natural setting, and proximity to larger population centers.
In 1851, James Carty received a permit to run a ferry across the Lake River, and both Quigley and Shobert established crude mud landings on their properties to accommodate the steamers.
The settlement came to be known as Shobert's Landing after that family began providing accommodations at their homestead for travelers on the river.
Side of this Island a short distance above its lower point is Situated a large village, the front of which occupies nearly 1/4 of a mile fronting the Chanel, and closely connected, I counted 14 houses (Quathlapotle nation) in front here the river widens to about 1-1/2 miles.It appears from the record that he was unmarried, and remained so.For 10 years after his arrival, Carty apparently had the future townsite almost to himself, sharing it only with a scattering of surviving Natives who, given the toll taken by imported disease, remained remarkably friendly. Teal, and George Thing, built separate cabins on an island in Lake River near Carty's mainland abode.Originally the site of a Chinook Indian village, the small city of Ridgefield in Clark County grew up on the banks of Lake River, a slow slough of navigable water that starts in Vancouver Lake and flows north and slightly west before emptying into the Columbia River.Ridgefield lies 10 miles north and a little west of Vancouver, the county seat.
Seven canoes of Indians came out from this large village to view and trade with us, they appeared orderly and well disposed, they accompanied us a fiew miles and returned back" ( Lewis and Clark returned to trade and visit further with the Cathlapotle on March 29, 1806, and at that time they estimated the settlement's Native population to be 300 (some secondary sources mistakenly transcribe this number as 900), or about 21 persons for each of the 14 large cedar plankhouses.