Vader Area

This information is provided courtesy Carole Ramsey, Deputy Clerk for the City of Vader.

The City of Vader lies nestled in the hills of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. Originally named Little Falls, the community traces its history back to the arrival of the railroad in the 1870s.

Booming between 1906 and 1912, Vader was said to be the largest town between Tacoma and Portland. Primary employers were the Little Falls Fire Clay Company and Stillwater Logging Company. The town had two hotels, an opera house, hospital, city band, many stores, and five saloons. Robert Cantwell, editor of Time, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, and the author of several Pacific Northwest books traces his roots to early Vader pioneers. Vader is also the birthplace of the famous Hollywood character actor Herbert Heyes whose movie credits stretch back to the silent era. His better known films include "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing," "The Seven Little Foys," and "A Place in the Sun."

Disaster struck in 1914 when the Stillwater Logging Company was sold and shut down. Soon after, the mill and the Little Falls Fire Clay Company burned to the ground, leaving many townspeople unemployed. The Great Depression added the final blow and Vader faced a hopeless situation. Although never proven, many desperate townspeople insured their homes and then burned them to the ground. Consequently the town declined rapidly and became a ghost town.

About 600 people live in Vader and only a few of the original buildings remain. Those still standing include the old jailhouse, the county-style Methodist church, and several Victorian-style houses. One of these houses is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; this house, built by lumber baron Ben Olson, has been beautifully restored by its present owners.

Vader is outgrowing its ghost town reputation. It is now known for its classic, small-town character.