In the 1930s about 4,200 people lived in Camas. Sixty years later the population of Camas was still around 6,800. But through the 1990s and the 2000s, Camas’s population has boomed to nearly 20,000. At the same time, the paper mill in Camas, which once employed thousands of workers, has decreased it’s payroll to about 450 unionized employees, plus management.
Other things have changed in Camas besides its population and the number of employees at its mill. Camas is now home to branches of high-tech companies including Sharp, which conducts research and development in Camas, and WaferTech, a semiconductor foundry. Camas is also much more developed; many places that used to be forest, farmland, or open pasture are now housing developments and business parks. Downtown Camas has changed too. In addition to two bars, there are now boutique shops and several hair salons.
Although many people are excited about the changes in Camas, some say they’ve divided the town in two. Different people describe that divide in different ways, but it generally falls along the lines of new residents and long-time residents, well off and working class. Still others say that awareness needs to raised around poverty in Camas.
Are you a current, past, or future resident of Camas? How do you describe the city to people who live elsewhere? What changes have you seen in Camas? Do you think more social services are needed in Camas?
We’ve put together a companion website for the Our Town series. Head over there to check out our interactive map of Camas which includes interviews and photographs of interesting people and places in Camas. Come back to this page to share your thoughts and opinions.
- Kim Schiffman: Camas resident
- Lloyd Halverson: Camas City Administrator
- Wess Daniels: Released Minister, Camas Friends Church
- Jim Pierce: Local 5 President, Association of Western Pulp and Paper Makers
- Caroline Mercury: Quality Manager, Georgia-Pacific