Onalaska, Washington

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Onalaska, Washington
Onalaska is located in Washington (state)
Onalaska is located in the United States
Coordinates: 46°34′47″N 122°42′37″W / 46.57972°N 122.71028°W / 46.57972; -122.71028Coordinates: 46°34′47″N 122°42′37″W / 46.57972°N 122.71028°W / 46.57972; -122.71028
CountryUnited States
 • Total1.60 sq mi (4.15 km2)
 • Land1.60 sq mi (4.15 km2)
 • Water0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
515 ft (157 m)
 • Total621
 • Density387/sq mi (149.5/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)360
GNIS feature ID2586742[3]
FIPS code53-51410

Onalaska is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) in Lewis County, Washington, United States. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 621.[2] Onalaska is located along Washington State Route 508. Onalaska has a post office with ZIP code 98570.[4]

Use of the name "Onalaska" in the United States[edit]

The name for the community comes from the poem "The Pleasures of Hope" by Scottish poet Thomas Campbell. Onalaska, Washington, Onalaska, Wisconsin, Onalaska, Arkansas and Onalaska, Texas are all historically connected to one another through the lumber industry.[citation needed]


Onalaska is in west-central Lewis County, in the valley of the South Fork of the Newaukum River. State Route 508 passes through the community, leading west 9 miles (14 km) to Napavine and east 24 miles (39 km) to Morton. Chehalis, the Lewis county seat, is 14 miles (23 km) northwest of Onalaska.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Onalaska CDP has an area of 1.6 square miles (4.2 km2), all of it recorded as land.[1] The South Fork of the Newaukum forms the southern edge of the community, and Carlisle Lake is on the western edge. The Newaukum River flows west to the Chehalis River at Chehalis.


Onalaska was built around the inland mill established by the Carlisle Lumber Company in 1909.[5] At its peak in 1929, company inventory numbered over 20 million board feet of lumber — enough to stretch all the way to the Panama Canal.

The company's surviving 225-foot smokestack near Carlisle Lake was built approximately in 1920, and is the last trace of one of the most successful mid-sized sawmills in Washington state. In May 2021, the site was listed to the Washington Heritage Register by the Washington State Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.[6]

The mill employed a sizeable number of Japanese and Japanese Americans. They lived north of today's State Route 508 and east of Carlisle Avenue. The streets, which ran parallel to Carlisle Avenue were called Oriental Avenue, Nippon Avenue and Tokyo Avenue.

According to Onalaska, a history of the Carlisle Lumber Company by Vic Kucera, the 1940 census showed 62 people of Japanese descent living in Lewis County. Because of their experience in the mill, the local Japanese Americans were forced to relocate to Camp Tulelake in California to help with its construction, Kucera writes. The Army relied on their labor to finish the camp where they were subsequently interned for the duration of WWII.

The Lewis County Museum in Chehalis has an exhibit honoring the Japanese and Japanese American internees.[7][8]


The Onalaska School District provides the community's education.

  • Onalaska Elementary/Middle School is the community's public elementary/middle school
  • Onalaska High School is the community's public high school


  1. ^ a b "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files –Washington". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Total Population: 2010 Census DEC Summary File 1 (P1), Onalaska CDP, Washington". data.census.gov. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  3. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Onalaska Census Designated Place
  4. ^ ZIP Code Lookup
  5. ^ "Carlisle Lumber Company". SNAC (Social Networks and Archival Context). National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  6. ^ Hill, Elizabeth (May 17, 2021). "Onalaska Smokestack Unanimously Approved to State Historical Registry". The Daily Chronicle. The Daily Chronicle. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  7. ^ Lewis County Historical Museum
  8. ^ Perednia, Graham (May 26, 2017). "'Time Has Revealed the Injustice of Your Experience:' Museum to Honor Japanese-Americans". The Daily Chronicle (Lewis County). Retrieved March 4, 2021.

External links[edit]