The first Chinook was an Indian village on the inland shore of the Columbia River. An Indian population once estimated at well above 1,000, ravaged by white man's diseases, had been reduced to fewer than 100 by 50 years after Lewis and Clark first camped at the site of the village in 1805.
A few miles to the west, a new Chinook, which came to life in the 1880s, took its name from the ancient Indian settlement. Midway between them stood Chinook Point, now the site of historic Fort Columbia.
Fishing dominated the economy of Chinook from the very beginning. The first fish traps were sunk in Baker Bay by John E. and A.P. Graham in 1880, and their success led to a salmon industry that allowed Chinook for many years to lay claim to the title of the richest town per capita in the U.S.
It is said that one man using only five traps hauled in 12,000 pounds of salmon worth $500 in a single day. The 1890s saw the town's first post office, saloon, general store, cream separator, church and public Fourth of July celebration.
Fishing wealth contributed to making Chinook a beautiful little town. Even today, driving through its narrow back lanes one can easily envision that the calendar should read 1903 instead of 2003.
The fishing industry survives as the community's major industry. The vital Port of Chinook is one of three major fishing centers on the Peninsula.
Although seldom thought of as a "beach" town, Chinook includes several thousand feet of lovely shoreline stretching from Fort Columbia State Park and Chinook County Park to the port.
Other attractions include fine restaurants and art galleries, including one in the Chinook Observer's original 1905 building.