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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Longview and Kelso, Washington"
Includes ... Longview ... Kelso ... Monticello ... Freeport ... Catlin ... Monticello Convention ... Cowlitz River ... The Golden Age of Postcards ...
Image, 2004, Columbia River and Longview, Washington, with Mount Rainier, click to enlarge
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Columbia River and Longview, Washington. Mount Rainier in the background, with the Columbia River and the Port of Longview, Washington, as seen from just downstream of Rainier, Oregon. Image taken February 11, 2004.


Longview and Kelso ...
Longview, Washington, and it's neighbor city Kelso, are located at the confluence of the Cowlitz River with the Columbia, at Columbia River Mile (RM) 67. Upstream is Cottonwood Island and Carrolls, Washington, and downstream is Mount Solo and Fisher Island. Downstream also was once Mount Coffin, a native burial location mentioned in the journals of early explorers. Across the Columbia is the community of Rainier, Oregon. Rainier is connected to Longview by the Lewis and Clark Bridge, named after Lewis and Clark who passed through the area on November 6, 1805, and again on their return on March 27, 1806.


Longview ...
The community of Longview, Washington, was the first planned city in the Pacific Northwest. It is located between the Columbia River and the mouth of the Cowlitz River, a location where once was the early community of "Monticello", one of the first settlements on the Cowlitz. Monticello was destroyed during a flood in 1867.
"... In 1919, Kansas City lumberman Robert Alexander Long's Long-Bell Lumber Co. purchased stands of timber in Cowlitz County from Weyerhaeuser and he made plans for a large mill to process logs for the domestic and foreign markets. The mouth of the Cowlitz River offered both rail connections and deep water for ships. Long spent $2.6 million in 1922 to buy up 14,000 acres consisting of 245 separate pieces of property for the mill and for a community where the 4,000 workers and their families -- an estimated population of 12,000 to 15,000 persons -- could live. ... Construction of dikes and drainage canals to protect the valley from floods cost another $3.25 million. Long went deeply into debt to build his new logging and milling operations and the planned community. ..." ["HistoryLink.org" website, 2006]
The City of Longview was dedicated in July 1923, and in February 1924 it was incorporated and a municipal government was established. The Longview Mill began operations in June.
"... In June 1924, the Long-Bell mill opened as the largest lumber producer in the world. It featured special catwalks so that visitors could view the giant logs being fed into the saws. Weyerhaeuser opened a mill of its own next to the Long-Bell facility in June 1929 and became the area's largest employer. Mount Coffin, on the site of the Weyerhaueser mill, was dynamited for gravel and for building stone. The Longview Fibre Mill turned wood waste into pulp and paper. ..." ["HistoryLink.org" website, 2006]
In 1956 Long’s heirs merged with International Paper, and in 1960, the Long-Bell Lumber plant, once largest in the world but now no longer profitable, was closed and demolished.

Today the City of Longview is still heavily into timber. It is connected to Rainier, Oregon, by the Lewis and Clark Bridge, providing great views of Longview. Head west out of Rainier on Highway 30 and Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens will rise as a backdrop to the Washington city.


Image, 2007, Longview, Washington, click to enlarge
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Welcome to Longview, Washington. Image taken January 28, 2007.
Image, 2004, Mount Rainier and Longview, Washington, click to enlarge
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Mount Rainier and Longview, Washington. Image taken February 11, 2004.
Image, 2004, Mount St. Helens and the Lewis and Clark Bridge, click to enlarge
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Lewis and Clark Bridge, with Mount St. Helens, Washington. Lewis and Clark Bridge, as seen from Oregon Highway-30, downstream of Rainier, Oregon. The bridge spans the Columbia River from Longview, Washington, to Rainier, Oregon. Mount St. Helens, Washington, is in the background. Image taken February 11, 2004.
Image, 2004, Mount St. Helens and Longview, Washington, click to enlarge
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Mount St. Helens and Longview, Washington. Image taken February 11, 2004.
Image, 2005, Steaming Mount St. Helens and Longview, Washington, click to enlarge
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Steaming Mount St. Helens and Longview, Washington. Image taken January 2, 2005.


Kelso ...
Kelso was platted on the east bank of the Cowlitz River.
"... The first American to settle in the future Cowlitz County was Scotsman Peter W. Crawford (1822-1883), who took a Donation Claim on the left bank of the Cowlitz near the mouth of the Coweeman on December 25, 1847. In 1884, he platted a city on the site, which he named after his home in Scotland, Kelso. Other settlers took up claims across the Cowlitz and farmed the bottomland. They formed the communities of Freeport, Catlin, and Monticello. ..." ["HistoryLink.org" website, 2006]

Image, 2006, Kelso, Washington, click to enlarge
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Wall mural, West Kelso, Washington. View taken through front car window, resulting in some glare. Image taken August 12, 2006.
Image, 2006, Kelso, Washington, click to enlarge
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Wall mural detail, West Kelso, Washington. View taken through front car window, resulting in some glare. Image taken August 12, 2006.
Image, 2006, Kelso, Washington, click to enlarge
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Street corner, West Kelso, Washington. View taken through front car window, resulting in some glare. Image taken August 12, 2006.


Early Longview and Kelso (and Monticello, Freeport, and Catlin) ...
The earliest settlements in the Longview/Kelso area were Kelso, Monticello, Freeport, and Catlin.

Kelso: In 1847 Peter W. Crawford, originally from Scotland, became the first American to settle in the Cowlitz County area. On Christmas day in 1847 Crawford took a Donation Land Claim (DLC) on the left bank of the Cowlitz River near the mouth of the Coweeman. In 1884 he platted a town on the site which he named after his hometown "Kelso".

Monticello: Monticello was the first community established in the area. It was named by H.D. Huntington in 1852, after his hometown of Monticello, Indiana. Most of the community was destroyed by flood in 1867. Nothing remains of the town today. The location is marked by an information sign visible from Washington Highway 432 (see Monticello Convention below).

Freeport: Freeport was named by Nathaniel Stone after Freeport, Indiana, Stone's hometown. Stone had a Donation Land Claim on the site. Today Freeport is part of the City of Longview.

Catlin: Catlin was located on the Donation Land Claim (DLC) of Seth Catlin who settled there in the 1860s with his wife Mary. In 1889 Catlin named the new settlement "Marysville". Conflicts with the Snohomish County "Marysville" led to re-naming the community "Catlin". Catlin became a part of Longview when the Long-Bell Lumber Company became established. Seth Catlin's DLC was located next to today's West Kelso.

From the Washington Secretary of State website (2007), Cowlitz County:

"... Monticello, one of the first towns in the area, was located near the mouth of the Cowlitz River. Two years after founding the town, Darby Huntington hosted the Monticello Convention in his home. On November 25, 1852, 44 delegates signed the petition requesting Congress to create a separate territory north of the Columbia River. Monticello became the County Seat when Washington Territory was established in 1853. The town grew as a transportation stop between Vancouver and the Puget Sound area when the most efficient means of travel was by boat, but it was frequently flooded. In 1867 a devastating flood destroyed most of Monticello, and by the 1880’s almost nothing marked the town site. About a mile or so up the Cowlitz River from Monticello, Nathaniel Stone established the town of Freeport on his Donation Land Claim. In June 1866, Freeport was the second County Seat of Cowlitz County. Although the town was located along the river and subject to flooding, it remained prominent for a number of years. Today Freeport is part of the City of Longview. ..."

Longview: The community of Longview, Washington, was the first planned city in the Pacific Northwest. It is located between the Columbia River and the mouth of the Cowlitz River, a location where once was the early community of "Monticello", one of the first settlements on the Cowlitz. The City of Longview was dedicated in July 1923, and in February 1924 it was incorporated and a municipal government was established. The Longview Mill began operations in June.


Monticello Convention ...
From the "HistoryLink.org" website (2007), the Encyclopedia of Washington State History:
"... In 1851, settlers north of the Columbia met at Cowlitz Landing and petitioned Congress to form a new territory separate from Oregon Territory. When no action was taken, delegates met again in the home of Harry Darby Huntington (1811-1882) at Monticello in November 1852 and drafted another plea for a new territory to be called Columbia. This resulted in H.R. 348 creating Washington Territory. ..."

Image, 2007, Monticello Convention sign, Longview, Washington, click to enlarge
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Monticello Convention sign, Longview, Washington. Image taken February 17, 2007.

"1852, Monticello Convention, Birthplace of Washington Territory"
Image, 2007, Monticello Convention sign, Longview, Washington, click to enlarge
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Monticello Convention sign, Longview, Washington. View of Monticello location, looking north from moving car on Washington State Highway 432. Image taken January 31, 2007.


Longview and Kelso Places, etc.

  • Columbia and Cowlitz Railroad ...
  • Cowlitz River ...
  • Cowlitz River Smelt Runs ...
  • The Otters of the Allen Street Bridge ...


Columbia and Cowlitz Railroad ...
The Columbia and Cowlitz Railway is a short-line railroad built by Weyerhaeuser Company but since 2010 owned by the Patriot Rail Corporation. The line was incorporated in 1925 and the rails laid between 1926 and 1928. The railroad runs an 8.5 miles route from the Weyerhaeuser Company mill in Longview to the junction just outside of Kelso's city limits. From that junction cars are switched to either the Patriot Woods Railroad (known as the Weyerhaeuser Woods Railroad) where lumber is transported another 30 miles to Weyerhaeuser's Green Mountain Sawmill in Toutle, or it is switched to the Burlington Northern/Union Pacific line for transport to Portland, Oregon, or Seattle, Washington. The Columbia and Cowlitz Railway system owns seven locomotives, one caboose, and 500 freight cars.
[More]

Image, 2013, Columbia and Cowlitz Railroad, click to enlarge
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Columbia and Cowlitz Railroad, Longview, Washington, sporting the original Weyerhaeuser colors of yellow and black. Image taken March 8, 2013.
Image, 2013, Columbia and Cowlitz Railroad, click to enlarge
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Columbia and Cowlitz Railroad, Longview, Washington, showing a newer mineral red color scheme. Image taken March 20, 2013.


Cowlitz River ...
The Cowlitz River winds its way through Longview and Kelso and merges with the Columbia at Columbia River Mile (RM) 67.
[More]

Image, 2006, Cowlitz River from the Kelso Bridge, click to enlarge
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Cowlitz River and Kelso, Washington, from the Allen Street Bridge, West Kelso, Washington. Image taken August 12, 2006.
Image, 2006, Allen Street Bridge, Cowlitz River, Kelso, Washington, click to enlarge
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Allen Street Bridge over the Cowlitz River, Kelso, Washington. View from West Kelso. Image taken August 12, 2006.
Image, 2006, Cowlitz River from the Kelso Bridge, click to enlarge
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Cowlitz River from the Kelso Bridge. Image taken August 12, 2006.


Cowlitz River smelt runs ...
On February 24, 1806, Lewis and Clark wrote their first description of the Eulachon, the "Pacific Smelt" (Thaleichthys pacificus).

"... This evening we were visited by Comowooll the Clatsop Chief and 12 men women & children of his nation ...   The chief and his party had brought for sail a Sea Otter skin some hats, stergeon and a [s]pecies of small fish which now begin to run, and are taken in great quantities in the Columbia R. about 40 miles above us [Cowlitz River] by means of skiming or scooping nets. ...   I find them best when cooked in Indian stile, which is by roasting a number of them together on a wooden spit without any previous preperation whatever. they are so fat they require no additional sauce, and I think them superior to any fish I ever tasted ..." [Lewis, February 24, 1806]

Washington's Cowlitz River and Oregon's Sandy River, both tributaries to the Columbia River, have long been famous for their smelt runs where fishermen lined the banks and could reach their limit in one dip of their nets. Unfortunately the runs have declined and the Pacific Smelt is now on the endangered list.


Penny Postcard, Columbia River Smelt Co., Kelso, Washington, ca.1915
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Penny Postcard: Columbia River Smelt Company, Kelso, Washington, ca.1915
Penny Postcard, "Shoveling Smelt, Columbia River, Oregon.". Label on box in image says: "From The Columbia River Smelt Co., Kelso, Wash.". Published by Louis Scheiner, Portland, Oregon. Made in U.S.A. Divided back. Card #R-28824. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


The Otters of the Allen Street Bridge ...
Sculptures of native wildlife reside on the four corners of the modern-day Allen Street Bridge which crosses the Cowlitz River between Kelso and West Kelso. Jumping rainbow trout live on the east side of the bridge, while the sculptures on the west are an owl known as "Sunriver Sentinel", and a pair of curious otters called "Bert and Ernie".

Image, 2006, Kelso, Washington, click to enlarge
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Otters, Allen Street Bridge, West Kelso, Washington. Image taken August 12, 2006.
Image, 2006, Cowlitz River from the Kelso Bridge, click to enlarge
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Otters, Allen Street Bridge, West Kelso, Washington. The Cowlitz River is in the background. Image taken August 12, 2006.
Image, 2006, Kelso, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Otters, Allen Street Bridge, West Kelso, Washington. Image taken August 12, 2006.
Image, 2006, Kelso, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Otters, Allen Street Bridge, West Kelso, Washington. Image taken August 12, 2006.
Image, 2006, Kelso, Washington, click to enlarge
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Otters, Allen Street Bridge, West Kelso, Washington. Looking towards West Kelso. Image taken August 12, 2006.


"The Golden Age of Postcards" ...

The early 1900s was the "Golden Age of Postcards", with the "Penny Postcard" being a popular way to send greetings to family and friends. Today the Penny Postcard has become a snapshot of history.

Penny Postcard, Cowlitz River and Kelso, Washington, ca.1905
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Penny Postcard: Cowlitz River and Kelso, Washington, ca.1905. Penny Postcard, ca.1905, "Tow Boat, Cowlitz River, Kelso, Wash.". Published by E.C. Kropp, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, made for Dunham and Abbott. Undivided back. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Cowlitz River, Long Bell Lumber Mills, ca.1930
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Penny Postcard: Cowlitz River and the Long Bell Lumber Mills, Longview, Washington, ca.1930. Penny Postcard, ca.1930, "Long Bell Lumber Mills, Mt. St. Helens in Distance, Longview, Wash.". Image copyright Brubaker Aerial Surveys. Published by Wesley Andrews, Inc., Baker, Oregon. Card #518. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Long Bell Lumber Mills, ca.1930
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Penny Postcard: Long Bell Lumber Mills, Longview, Washington, ca.1930. Penny Postcard, ca.1930, "Long Bell Lumber Mills, Longview, Wash.". Published by Wesley Andrews, Inc., Baker, Oregon. Card #515. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 6, 1805 ...
A cool wet raney morning we Set out [from their camp at Prescott Beach] early at 4 miles pass 2 Lodges of Indians in a Small bottom on the Lard Side I believe those Indians to be travelers. opposit is <the head of a long narrow Island close under the Starboard Side [Cottonwood Island], back of this Island two Creeks fall in about 6 miles apart,> [Cowlitz River delta, Longview, Washington. Today the "two Creeks" are the Cowlitz River and Coal Creek Slough.] and appear to head in the high hilley countrey to the N. E. opposit <this long Island is 2 others one Small and about the middle of the river> the other larger and nearly opposit its lower point [today the location of Walker Island and Lord Island complex], and opposit a high clift of Black rocks [Green Point, location of Mayger, Oregon] on the Lard. Side at 14 miles; ...     here the hills leave the river on the Lard. Side, a butifull open and extensive bottom [Clatskanie River delta] in which there is an old Village, one also on the Stard. Side a little above both of which are abandened by all their inhabitents except Two Small dogs nearly Starved, and an unreasonable portion of flees— The Hills and mountains are covered with Sever kinds of Pine— ...     Some willow on the waters edge,   passed an Island 3 miles long and one mile wide [Crims Island ... Crims Island is separated from the Oregon shore by the Bradbury Slough.], <one> close under the Stard. Side below the <long narrow Island> below which the Stard Hills are verry from the river bank and Continues high and rugid on that Side all day, ... [Lewis and Clark pass, but do not mention today's Germany Creek, Abernethy Creek, and Mill Creek]     we came too to Dine on the long narrow Island [Crims Island] found the woods So thick with under groth that the hunters could not get any distance into the Isld. ...     river about one mile wide hills high and Steep on the Std. [cliffs of Oak Point] no place for several Miles suffcently large and leavil for our camp we at length Landed at a place [Eagle Cliff and Cape Horn, Wahkiakum County] which by moveing the Stones we made a place Sufficently large for the party to lie leavil on the Smaller Stones Clear of the Tide     Cloudy with rain all day we are all wet and disagreeable, had large fires made on the Stone and dried our bedding and Kill the flees, which collected in our blankets at every old village we encamped near     I had like to have forgotten a verry remarkable Knob [Mount Coffin, Longview, Washington, now destroyed] riseing from the edge of the water to about 80 feet high, and about 200 paces around at its Base and Situated <on the long narrow Island> [Longview, Washington area, the Cowlitz River delta] above and nearly opposit to the 2 Lodges we passed to day, it is Some distance from the high land & in a low part of the Island [Cowlitz River delta]






Clark, March 27, 1806 ...
a rainey disagreeable night     rained the greater part of the night     we Set out this morning verry early [from their camp on Walker Island] and proceeded on to two houses of the Skil-lute Indians on the South Side [downstream of Rainier, Oregon] here we found our hunters who had Seperated from us last evening.     the wind rose and the rain became very hard Soon after we landed here we were very friendly receved by the natives who gave all our party as much fish as they Could eate, ...     resumed our voyage at 12 oClock. The principal village of the Skil-lutes is Situated on the lower Side of the Cow-e-lis kee river [Cowlitz River] a fiew miles from it's enterance into the Columbia. ...     The Cow e lis kee river [Cowlitz River] is 150 yards wide, is deep and from Indian information navigable a very conslderable distance for canoes. it discharges itself into the Columbia about 3 miles above a remarkable knob [Mount Coffin] which is high and rocky and Situated on the North Side of the Columbia, and Seperated from the Northern hills of the river by a Wide bottom of Several Miles, to which it united [today the cities of Longview and Kelso, Washington]. I Suspect that this river Waters the Country lying west of a range of Mountains which passes the Columbia between the Great falls and rapids, and North of the Same nearly to the low country which Commences on the N W. Coast about Latitude 4o [blank] North. ...     at the distance of 2 miles above the village at which we brackfast we passed the enterance of this river [Cowlitz River]; we Saw Several fishing camps of the Skillutes on both Sides of the Columbia, and also on both Sides of this river. ...     late in the evening we passed the place we Camped the 5th of Novr. [Prescott Beach] and Encamped about 4 miles above at the Commencement of the Columbian Vally on the Stard. Side [near Goble, Oregon] below Deer Island [Deer Island, Oregon]. ...

[between Prescott Beach and Goble lies Coffin Rock, a basalt feature on the south side of the Columbia, now located on property owned by the Trojan Nuclear Facility]

Saw Cotton wood, Sweet Willow, w[hite] oake, ash and the broad leafed ash the Growth which resembles the bark &c. these form the groth of the bottom lands, whilst the Hills are almost exclusively Covered with the various Species of fir heretofore discribed. the black alder appears on Maney parts of the hills Sides as on the bottoms. before we Set out from the 2 houses where we brackfast we Sent on two Canoes with the best hunters, with orders to pro ceed as fast as they Could to Deer island [Deer Island, Oregon] and there to hunt and wait our arrival. we wish to halt at that place and repare 2 of our Canoes if possible. the Indians that visited us this evining remained but a Short time, they passed over to an Island [Sandy Island ???] and encamped. the night as well as the day proved Cold wet and excessively disagreeable. we Came 20 miles in the Course of this day.





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*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003

Sources:    City of Kelso, Washington, website, 2006;   City of Longview, Washington, website, 2006;   "HistoryLink.org" website, 2006, 2007, "The Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History";   Hitchman, 1985, Place Names of Washington, Washington State Historical Society;   Washington Secretary of State website, 2007, Cowlitz County   "wikipedia.org" website, 2013, "Columbia and Cowlitz Railway";  

All Lewis and Clark quotations from Gary Moulton editions of the Lewis and Clark Journals, University of Nebraska Press, all attempts have been made to type the quotations exactly as in the Moulton editions, however typing errors introduced by this web author cannot be ruled out; location interpretation from variety of sources, including this website author.
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Images are NOT to be downloaded from this website.
November 2013