The Port of Ridgefield was established in 1940 under the State of Washington Public Ports Act. The Act allowed the formation of a port district by area residents, who could then elect a commission to govern port district activities.
The vision of those who established the port was to increase economic development opportunities within the City of Ridgefield and surrounding areas.
The first elected commissioners to the Port of Ridgefield were H.C. Cornell, E.F. McCune, and J.R. Hicks, all of whom served in this role until 1952 and were the first to govern this visionary district.
In 1980, in order to expand the area in which the port could conduct its economic development work, voters approved a measure to enlarge the district, increasing it to 57 square miles (36,480 acres). Interstate 5 split this expanded region.
In 1984, the port purchased a 78-acre parcel of land in its district near the I-5/Ridgefield junction for the establishment of an industrial park. Today the Ridgefield Industrial Park is home to 11 thriving businesses and provides 800 jobs for district citizens.
The port did not actively develop land or facilities during World War II. In 1956, however, the Ridgefield Veneer Company plant opened on 13 acres leased from the port and adjoining land that it purchased. By 1957, the town’s last shingle mill had closed and the veneer plant offered the only industrial employment in the area.
Ridgefield Veneer was joined in 1963 by Pacific Wood Treating. A laudatory article in The Oregonian reported the newly established Pacific Wood Treating plant and noted that, “Two years ago this site was a virtual wasteland. Now all the prime industrial property is gone.”
Pacific Wood Treating Corporation treated lumber for industrial use. In the 1970s the plant would also pressure-treat Douglas fir timbers that would be used by another Niedermeyer-Martin company, TimberForm, to create the wooden playground structures that would become ubiquitous in American public parks and backyards. The chemicals used on the lumber would later be found to have significant environmental consequences, leading the port to a 20-year clean-up of the site, completed in 2018.
In 2004 the port purchased 75 acres of land northeast of the I-5/Ridgefield junction, seeking to spur development in the Discovery Corridor. The Discovery Corridor is a port-established, now commonly recognized name for the well-located north Clark County area that boasts large land tracts suitable for businesses in the health, education, technology, and innovation arenas.
With the goal of seeing medical facilities developed in Ridgefield, the port sold this 75 acres to PeaceHealth, now Peace Health Southwest, for the hospital’s then-stated use as a future medical campus.