More about the city and SW Washington
Rare is the city that is planned before being built. However, that is
Longview's background, thanks to the vision of its founder, Robert
He was the president of the largest manufacturer and retailer of
lumber in the United States in the early 1900s. With timber holdings
in the southern states facing an uncertain future, R. A. Long, then
68 years old, put the proposal to move to the west before his key
executives. Their decision unleashed a series of events that led the
company to buy huge property holdings in this area that included
land enough for a new city that would become Longview.
Long enlisted a colleague, J.C. Nichols, a Kansas City developer, to
plan the new city. His foresight is evident today in the streets
radiating from the city center and in the distinct neighborhood
In the beginning, the company built streets, utility lines, stores,
a hotel, schools, parks, dikes, and houses.
Early photos are almost an oddity in that they show beautifully
paved streets and a long four-laned boulevard almost devoid
of buildings and traffic. Construction was swift. The new
city was dedicated in 1923 and advertised in national
magazines as a "city built in three years - remarkable as
to location, climate and opportunities."
Other industries joined the huge Long-Bell Lumber Company. Weyerhaeuser,
Longview Fibre Company, the Reynolds Metals Company. Two of these continue
to produce a huge supply of a variety of wood and paper products today. Long's own company, Long-Bell, sawed its last log in 1960.
The planned city continues to thrive, however, as Robert A. Long's legacy...despite a national economic downtown and the loss of several hundred jobs here with the closure of the aluminum plant.
Today, Longview has 34,669 residents in a county (Cowlitz) of 92,948. Kelso, Longview's neighboring city, has 11,895 residents. With the Columbia River to the south and hills to the north,
Longview's primary growth is to the west.
In the heart of Longview is Lake Sacajawea, a narrow lake and park that
attracts walkers, joggers and area families the year around.
Another outstanding characteristic of the city is it's 14,000 trees that
line streets throughout the town.
Cowlitz County has broken away from its early dependence on timber
products. It has a regional shopping mall in Kelso, an exceptional
medical center (Peacehealth, St. John) in Longview and a variety of
other private employers.
The area's schools are excellent. Longview has two high schools, one
named after the city's founder, R. A. Long, and the other after one
Kelso School District. Longview has eight elementary schools and
three middle schools, one of which (Mt. Solo Middle School) is
new. All the schools in the region have a superb record of
A two-year community college, Lower Columbia College, offers ties to
Linfield College (nursing) and Washington State University (teaching) and
contributes hugely to vocational training in the area as well as providing a good start for students moving on to other institutions.
Tourist brochures often bill this area as the "gateway to Mt. St. Helens." In fact, one of the most historic events in the region was the eruption of Mt. St. Helens on May 18, 1980. Today, the mountain is a National Volcanic Monument and a world-class tourist attraction.
We've provided links throughout this article that will give you an opportunity to explore the region, its schools, and even its scenery.