Mossyrock incorporates on January 2, 1948.

  • By Linda Holden Givens
  • Posted 6/03/2022
  • Essay 22493
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On January 2, 1948, Mossyrock in central Lewis County is officially incorporated as a town of the fourth class when the incorporation paperwork is filed with the Washington Secretary of State's office. Originally known as Klickitat Prairie, Mossyrock is nestled among the forested foothills of the Cascades near the Cowlitz River. Residents voted in favor of incorporating on December 2, 1947, and the county commissioners approved it on December 11.

The Path to Incorporation

Homesteaders began settling in the area that would become Mossyrock in the middle of the nineteenth century, with their numbers increasing in the 1880s and 1890s. An early settler, Joseph Mitchell, platted the town of Mossy Rock in 1891, donating his land claim for the new town. The town's name was changed from two words to one, Mossyrock, when George W. Jerrells (1848-1922) was appointed postmaster in 1895.

The town had been named and platted but was not yet incorporated. After its growth from the 1890s through the first half of the twentieth century, residents considered that it was time to incorporate a local municipal government. In August 1947, petitions were circulated initiating a campaign to incorporate the town. Growth in Mossyrock up to this point was slowly increasing, with businesses that included grocery stores, a barbershop, a cannery, a hatchery, a theater, a post office, and churches.

On August 11, 1947, the petition for incorporation was presented to the Board of County Commissioners of Lewis County. An open hearing was held on September 4. On October 2, Lewis County Auditor Roy J. Fletcher posted notices of caucus regarding the desired incorporation of the town in four public places: Mossyrock High School, the Mossyrock Post Office, the Smith and Greear Store, and Lee's Café.


A special election was held on December 2, 1947, at Mossyrock High School to approve or reject the proposed incorporation and to elect a town council and other officials. An estimated 337 inhabitants were within the boundaries of the proposed town. Residents voted 80 in favor of incorporation and 42 against. Percy Howard Birley (1900-1989) won the mayoral election. Laurence Deacon (1902-1988) was elected treasurer. Lewis E. Duncan (1918-1988), Lowell J. Redmon (1897-1956), Walter C. Greear, W. Lee Childers, and Lloyd F. Carson (1904-1984) were elected to the town council.

The Lewis County Commissioners approved the election results and incorporation on December 11, 1947. Mossyrock was officially incorporated as a town of the fourth class on January 2, 1948, at 3:40 p.m. when the incorporation papers approved by the county commissioners were filed with the Secretary of State.

First Officials

On January 19, 1948, the newly elected officers held their first meeting in the office of councilmember (and school superintendent) Lewis E. Duncan at Mossyrock High School. Mayor Birley announced the appointments of William Spath as Marshal, L. D. Childers as Police Judge, G. R. Darnell as Health Officer, Walter C. Greear as Fire Marshal, and Laurence E. Deacon as Clerk.

The mayor presented a letter from Lewis County Auditor Roy Fletcher regarding voter registration. As a result of Mossyrock's incorporation, voter registration had to be re-established in the new town. Registration in the old Klickitat Precinct would be canceled and a new precinct formed.

Birley, Mossyrock's first mayor, was born in Mossyrock on June 1, 1900. In 1923, he married Myrtle Maud Coleman Birley (1904-1990). They had two daughters, Myrtle Jean Birley Hilton (1924-2014) and Norma Carol Birley Baron (1926-1994), both born in Mossyrock. Birley had owned and operated the Mossyrock water system since 1937, consolidating four other small systems.

In the decades following incorporation the community grew in Mossyrock, but many businesses eventually succumbed to competition from larger retailers. One of the few that survived was Aldrich Berry Farm, established in the 1940s by Neal Allen Aldrich (1899-1983) and operated over the years by generations of family. In 1970, by a vote of the council, Mossyrock changed its municipal classification from that of a town to a noncharter code city. Its population remained relatively low, increasing to an estimated 775 residents as of 2021 in what city officials promoted as the "Heart of Lewis County" ("History of Mossyrock").


"Copy of Proceedings Had in the Matter of the Incorporation of the Town of Mossyrock," filed in the office of the Secretary of State January 2, 1948, Washington State Archives, Southwest Regional Branch, Olympia, Washington; Mossyrock Town Council Minutes, January 19, 1948, Washington State Archives, Southwest Regional Branch; Town of Mossyrock Ordinance No. 77, March 12, 1970, Washington State Archives, Southwest Regional Branch; "History of Mossyrock," City of Mossyrock website accessed June 3, 2022 (; Sara Dana, email to Linda Holden Givens, May 6, 9, 11-12, 2022, in possession of Linda Holden Givens, Auburn, Washington; Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Mossyrock -- Thumbnail History" (by Linda Holden Givens), (accessed June 3, 2022).

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