Sandy is the “Gateway to Mount Hood.”

Portland is “The City of Roses.”

Seattle is the “Emerald City.”

New York is the “Big Apple.”

And everyone knows Chicago is “The Windy City.”

But what’s Estacada?

Chatting with people in downtown Estacada on a sunny Wednesday afternoon, it’s clear that it’s hard for people to pin down the city’s identity.

“We’ve always been searching for identity. Always, always, always. And I’ve lived here 40 years,” said Linda Arnett, manager of the Book Nook.

“Ever since I’ve been here I’ve been trying to come up with a picture, a logo or design to show our identity, but I haven’t been able to come up with anything,” said Bill Elliott. Elliott has been Estacada’s city manager for four years.

“We’re definitely a community in transition,” said Mayor Brent Dodrill. “It remains to be seen what will be our identity.”

Estacada does, of course, have a few nicknames, but none of them seem to have totally stuck.

There’s “Gateway to the Clackamas,” but several people mentioned that this nickname didn’t quite work for them. “Gateway” indicates passing through without stopping, they said.

Then there is “Christmas Tree Capital of the World.”

Several of the people surveyed like this one, because as Josh Erickson of Estacada Motor Sports pointed out, there’s “Christmas trees everywhere.”

But in the words of one citizen, “I think you can say that in Washington, too.”

Then there are the not-so-nice joke nicknames. But those don’t merit repeating.

People had a lot of ideas about what should be incorporated in a good nickname for Estacada, but had a hard time boiling it down into one catchy phrase.

“We are so eclectic that it’s really hard to narrow it down,” said Melanie Wagner, assistant to the city manager. “There’s definitely not one thing that defines Estacada.”

Justin Venetucci, owner of Just-In Video, said that “The biggest draw in town used to be Safari Club, but now that’s gone.”

In lieu of that landmark, Venetucci mused about Estacada’s other identifying features.

“We’ve got lots of bars and lots of churches,” he said. “It’s just a little town where everybody knows everybody.”

The theme of timber comes up a lot in discussing nicknames, but usually in a historical context.

“We were obviously historically a timber town,” Dodrill said. He explained that before the construction of the new highway, log trucks would drive right through the center of town.

“That’s obviously our history, but that’s changed, and not just for us,” he said.

“We used to be timber, but not so much anymore,” said Estacada Main Street Manager Gloria Feider Polzin.

“It still seems like a timber town to me, but it’s really become more of an art town,” said artist, Am Griswold. “I don’t think they’re opposites. People use nature in their art all the time. Even when you had the Timber Festival way back when, they had an art booth. They’ve always been tied together in my book.”

A lot of people mention the art community while brainstorming nicknames.

“You could call it ‘Mural Town’ almost,” Dodrill said.

“I think art is a huge big deal. We’re really known for our art... and adventure,” Polzin said.

Nature also is a recurring theme.

“The River City,” Barbara Mattson, owner of Barbara’s Flowers & Coffee said when asked what she’d nickname the city.

(Several of her patrons said that the city should simply be nicknamed after her.)

“The river runs through us,” Debbie Ingamells suggested. Ingamells vends and teaches quilting classes at Wade Creek House.

“I think the setting is the attraction,” Arnett agrees.

Ingamells also comes up with “On the edge of nature,” because “We are sort of on the edge of civilization.”

“The last resort,” Dominic Greene joked. Greene works at N.W. Hi-Tech Solutions.

A lot of people mention that they would like a nickname that conveys something positive.

“The best little town that could,” Ingamells offered.

“I would love to have Estacada as a real positive, engaging well put together place,” Dodrill said. “I’d like people driving through to say ‘These people care about their community.’ “

Estacada Area Chamber of Commerce President Jordan Winthrop mentions that there has been a lot of “behind the scenes” research on how to brand Estacada.

“I think it’s very important to have branding in a city,” he said.

Winthrop explained he’s got an idea up his sleeve, but he’s not yet ready to reveal it.

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