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Cowlitz County is home to approximately 94,000 residents. Roughly 56% of those live in the incorporated cities of Castle Rock, Kelso, Longview, Kalama, and Woodland. The remaining 44% live in rural, unincorporated communities such as Ryderwood, Toutle, Yale, Silver Lake, Lexington, Ariel and Cougar.

Castle Rock
Castle Rock, the Gateway to Mount St. Helens, is situated between the Cowlitz River and Interstate 5,134 miles south of Seattle and 63 miles north of Portland, Oregon. (Link to map of Castle Rock.) It is the northern most city in Cowlitz County, with a population of 2,150. Spirit Lake Memorial Highway (State Route 504) connects the city to the Mount St. Helens National Monument and Spirit Lake recreation areas – two of the most outstanding tourist attractions in Washington State. The City of Castle Rock received the Association of Washington Cities 2004 Municipal Achievement Castle Rock’s historic downtown features a wide variety of shops, antique stores, restaurants, and accommodations. Other activities include the Castle Rock Exhibit Hall/Visitor's Information Center – displaying carvings, photographs and exhibits relating to Mount St. Helens. The town’s namesake, a 190-foot-high rock, was a landmark for Cowlitz Indians and Hudson’s Bay Company traders as early as 1832. Castle Rock prospered as a Cowlitz River steamboat port and trading center for valley farms. A local sawmill was the first to produce cedar shingles, using the Western red cedar, which grows in abundance in the region.

The city of Kelso is the county seat of Cowlitz County, located in southwestern Washington. Kelso is located on Interstate 5, at the confluence of the Cowlitz, Coweeman and Columbia Rivers. Kelso is 48 miles north of Portland, Oregon and 125 miles south of Seattle,and only 80 miles east of the Pacific Ocean.

Kelso is known as the "Smelt Capital of the World" to get information about when the Smelt are running please call Will Morrison at 360-906-6705 with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

There are 12,000 residents in Kelso. The secondary market area for Kelso businesses includes approximately 20,000 residents of adjacent counties (Wahkiakum and south Lewis Counties in Washington, and Columbia County in Oregon). More people in Kelso work in direct production services and fewer work in management and technical areas than is the state norm. The business and tourist travelers on Interstate 5 and the tourists traveling to the ocean on State Route 4 provide an additional market for Kelso businesses. Kelso is very accessible with a freeway (I-5) through the east portion of the city, an Amtrak station in downtown, Burlington Northern freight service, a municipal airport in South Kelso, and navigable water access via the Columbia River. In addition to I- 5, Kelso is located at the junction of State Highways 4, 411, 432 and 433. Retail Sales Tax is 1.1%. With state retail sales tax, the total sales tax collected is 7.7%. There is no Public Transit tax. Business and Occupation tax is 0.001/0.002%, retail/service respectively per $1,000 gross receipts.

Longview is a city in Cowlitz County, Washington, United States. It is the principal city of the 'Longview, Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area' which encompasses all of Cowlitz County. The population was 34,660 at the 2000 census, with an estimated population of 35,570 as of April 1, 2006. Longview is located in southwestern Washington, at the junction of the Cowlitz and Columbia rivers. A positive, proactive and hopeful public attitude is evident in Longview.  From education to culture to neighborhoods, you'll find a home-style atmosphere that is appealing to residents and visitors alike.  Catch our celebratory spirit in our special community celebrations throughout the year. The Longview area is attractive for all ages of people. Here you will find an emphasis on education, families, business development, natural resources and quality of life. Residents pride in the beauty of areas parks, trees, rivers and surrounding forests is reflected in active community programs and service groups.

Kalama is located on the Columbia River north of Vancouver, Washington and south of Kelso & Longview, Washington. Kalama has many exciting activities going on: from spring Chinook fishing to the antique classic car show. Kalama is a small town with a lot to offer. People from all over flock to Kalama for its famous Chinook, steelhead, and sturgeon fishing. When summer swings around people take to the waters of the Columbia and Kalama rivers for a summer of water sports, sailing, wind surfing, rafting and canoeing. We have an excellent marina and boat launch. Interstate 5 runs directly through Kalama, giving tourists the option of visiting the world's tallest totem pole or taking on some unique antique shopping in one of the Northwest's biggest antique districts. The City of Kalama is on its way to even greater things, working in conjunction with local businesses, school, and the Port of Kalama to improve our small city. Kalama still remains "undiscovered" for many home builders and entrepreneurs. You can sit on your deck overlooking the Columbia River and the hills of Oregon, and watch the sun go down in a community where opportunity lies. Kalama will always be known for being a "Small Town with Big Horizons" and being the place "Where Highway, Rail and Water Meet".

Incorporated in 1906, the City of Woodland, located 20 miles north of Vancouver, Washington, is the southern gateway to Mt. St. Helens.  The city is located in both Cowlitz and Clark Counties. This growing community, with a population of 4,960 is located at the junction of Interstate 5 and State Highway 503.  The greater Woodland area has a population of over 10,000 persons. Woodland is home of the famous Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens and the annual celebration of The Lilac Festival.  From the last week of April through the first week of May, the Klager Museum is open to the public.  Woodland is also known for Planter's Days, a celebration of pageant that commences with the coronation of a Planter's Day Queen.  The celebration is the oldest of its type in the Pacific Northwest and reflects Woodland's passion for tradition.



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