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The city was named after the camas lily, a plant which grows in the area and is part of the lily family. The name "Camas" comes from a Nez Perce word meaning "sweet". In 1805, Lewis and Clark camped at what would become Camas on their expedition to explore North America. In 1836, Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth founded Fort Hall two miles east of present-day downtown Camas along the Columbia River; it was abandoned by 1840 due to flooding problems associated with its location in an oxbow lake formed by geologic processes during Ice Age floods.