It’s hard to miss what the town of Clear Lake is known for. Its namesake lake boasts fishing and swimming, plus a park on South Front Street on the water popular with picnickers and families.
There’s even playground equipment for little ones not ready to get in the water at the public swimming area.
During the warm days of the summer, visitors can watch water-skiers zip around the lake and anglers cast their lines from small boats.
Besides the lake, residents and tourists traveling along Highway 9 will find the Clear Lake Market, a tavern, gas station/convenience store, two churches, welding and construction businesses, a fire department and an elementary school.
Clear Lake evolved as a logging town. In about 1900 during peak production, the Clear Lake Lumber Co. employed 2,000 people and was the largest inland mill in the Pacific Northwest, according to the Clear Lake Historical Association.
The company went bankrupt in 1925, and with its main industry gone, the town slowly evolved into what is now a scenic bedroom community of about 1,400 people.
Nestled in the foothills east of Mount Vernon, in a valley surrounded by hills and a mixture of farm fields and newer homes, lies a chain of lakes where many locals enjoy boating, fishing and other water recreation.
This small community of about 1,835 began as a bustling company logging town, where hundreds of workers swarmed each day to fell trees and produce lumber. As logging diminished in the 1930s, it transformed from a smoke-filled valley into a quiet, bucolic farming community.
Now the shores of Big Lake are lined with homes, while the hills nearby are dotted with housing developments. The small community centers around its elementary school, quirky grocery store, fire hall, church and sprawling, nine-hole golf course. Much of the year boaters and anglers can be seen floating on the lake, with bass and rainbow trout popular catches.
And in high summer, the community enjoys a July fireworks display, a day before anyone else’s to rival that of any other city in the county. Thousands of people view the show every year, either from shore or on a vessel.