Doran H. Stearns

Promotion of communities that are known today as Camas and Orchards earned Doran H. (Don) Stearns a niche in the listing of prominent Clark County people.

Stearns had worked for an Omaha newspaper, and had established a daily newspaper, the Bee, in Portland, in the late 1870s, then sold out. In 1877 he married Clara Duniway, daughter of suffragette Abigail Scott Duniway.

By 1882, Stearns was working on the daily Telegram, which had been established by Henry L. Pittock.

Pittock also published The Oregonian.

Pittock began pushing ahead in 1883 with plans for a paper mill and town in Clark County, and he picked Stearns as manager and general agent of the La Camas company. Stearns surveyed the La Camas area in 1883 with a Pittock associate. Considerable property was purchased and a town was laid out.

Stearns and his wife moved to a home at Lacamas Lake so he could be near the activity. The paper mill was constructed, and manufactured its first paper in 1885. New residents were moving in, and the company was able to sell many town lots.

Stearns’ wife died in 1886 but Stearns continued for part of the late ’80s in the Lacamas job. In addition to managing the townsite company, he was an official of at least three companies: manager of a lumber firm; secretary of Lacamas Milling Co.; and president of the Lacamas and Tacoma Railroad and Transportation Co., which hoped to build a railroad.

In the late 1890s and early ’90s, Stearns was promoting real estate in Camas and in the community that became known as Orchards because of prune trees. He was associated for several years with the Stearns and Hitchcock firm in Vancouver. About 1893 Stearns issued one of the first promotional booklets on Clark (then Clarke) County, “Fruit Growing and the Dairy Industry, Clarke County, Wash.”

The Depression of the 1890s apparently ruined Stearns’ efforts here, and he moved to Portland. He remained active in agriculture and mining promotion until his death in 1904.