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Mary’s Corner to Vancouver

  • Distance: 77 miles
  • Routes: Old Highway 99
  • Estimated Driving time: 2 hours

In the fifties the new country, rich in timber, fishing, mining, and agricultural resources, was tramped by eager homeseekers, prospectors, and fortune hunters. Today, the easily reached timber has been cut, and logging operations have moved back into the foothills and the less accessible regions. In the hidden hinterland, abandoned sawmills and logging operations have left ghost towns in their wake. Of the inhabitants who remain, a few maintain themselves by small-scale farming, poultry raising, and dairying. Bordering the road are alternating stretches of small timber, stump lands, and prosperous farms.

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The lofty firs of Lewis and Clark State Park, an improved forest area, shade the highway on warm summer days, and the park’s rich vegetation exudes a sweet, refreshing dampness. Woodland trails leading off through heavily timbered sections provide short hikes. The park is in one of the last major stands of old-growth forest in the state, comprised of coniferous trees, streams, wetlands and dense vegetation. The park, separate from...

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The oldest active mission in the Northwest and the site of the first Roman Catholic church in Washington. In 1838 missionaries from Canada, under Father Francois Norbert Blanchet, founded the mission here, converted the neighboring Native American bands to the Christian faith, and ministered to the spiritual needs of Hudson’s Bay Company traders and settlers. For many years, St. Francis Mission, also known as the Cowlitz Mission, was the only...

Learn more about St. Francis Mission

Sidetrip: Ryderwood

The 28 mile side trip follows the Cowlitz River west to the Still Water creek and then up the Still Water Creek valley, across Cougar Flat to Ryderwood, end of the road, up in the Cascades.

Take the Ryderwood side trip

It had at least three previous names; Plomondoe's Landing, Cowlitz Landing, and Warbassport. The present community occupies the site of a Donation Land Claim owned in the 1850s by August and Celeste Rochon. The present name was given by Celeste Rochon for a pioneer side wheel steamer operated by Capt. Oren Kellogg of the Kellogg Transportation Company. Here early settlers disembarked, swapped stories, and continued northward by stage, horse, or...

Learn more about Toledo

Sidetrip: Eden Valley

The 24 mile side trip runs across Layton Prairie, east of Toledo, up into mountains crossing Eden Valley near the headwaters of Salmon Creek, much of the road was still under construction in 1930, connects with Scenic byway to south at the Toutle River.

Take the Eden Valley side trip

Tour traverses lush grazing land and crosses the swirling Toutle River. Through the 1940s truck gardens lined the valley bottomlands and were divided from the forest only by the roadway, along which rumble heavy log trucks loaded with forest giants. The highway rises to a terrace above the valley floor; below is a panorama of river country. The broad willow-bordered Cowlitz, widening at every tributary, flows with graceful bends and...

Learn more about Smokey Valley

The only round barn in Cowlitz County, and one of only five in the State, the Laughlin Round Barn is an unusually early example of its type. Built c. 1883 it was constructed as a wood pole barn with circular walls and a conical roof. The central parts or the barn are hand-hewn split and planed logs. Little is known of Samuel Laughlin except that he came from Missouri in...

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A rural trading center for the fine farms in the valley, is set on low flat ground along the east bank of the Cowlitz River. Founded in 1883, it took its name from the huge rocky upthrust south of town long known as Castle Rock. Several times river floods menaced the town, until it inaugurated a successful dike system. By the 1940s, dairying, truck farming, and lumber manufacture supported the...

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The tour follows the topography high above the Cowlitz River. It follows a course marked by sweeping curves, passes along a series of terraces, formed by ancient floods, and affords glimpses of the broad and deceitfully peaceful Cowlitz, winding slowly southward. The terraces rise from 300 to 400 feet above the flood plains of the river, along which are fertile farmlands, protected by a dike system. In the 1940s, logging...

Learn more about Cowlitz River

The city is hidden from view by a jutting hill crowned with trees. It was named for Dr. Nathaniel Ostrander, one of Cowlitz County’s first settlers, who took his donation land claim here in 1852. This village, set in the midst of a few farms, is but a gray shadow of the busy little settlement of the late 1890s and the early 1900s, when the Ostrander Timber Company rivaled other...

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The city has the brisk air of a small metropolis, compact with stores and business blocks. The industries of the town are assembled along the highway, paralleling the Cowlitz River. In 1847 the founder, Peter Crawford, a surveyor from Kelso, Scotland, took up a land claim in what is now the northeast section of the town. It was on the main artery of travel between Vancouver and the Puget Sound...

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Points of Interest
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Cowlitz River Bridge

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US Post Office

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Adam Catlin House

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“Old” Nat Smith House

The highway traverses the base of a wooded promontory and ascends gradually, offering a panorama of the Columbia as it swings westward to join the Pacific. A large island stems the current in the center of this great sweep of water. Ocean-going cargo carriers move ponderously upon its broad bosom and small fishing boats scuttle to and fro. At nights the lights of tiny settlements on the Oregon shore appear.

Learn more about Carrolls Bluff

Mile: 34

Kalama (“pretty maiden”), is on a narrow flat at the confluence of the Columbia and Kalama Rivers. It began in 1853 when Ezra Meeker, noted pioneer, arrived and built a cabin near the present townsite. Leaving his wife and son here for a time, he continued north with his brother to locate land claims in the Puget Sound country. Although numerous claims were settled along the Columbia and Kalama Rivers...

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Points of Interest
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St. Joseph’s Catholic Church

Mile: 30

The town, situated on a low, wide plain, was a bustling center of the surrounding farming, dairying, and poultry community in the 1940s, and had a vegetable cannery and a receiving, shipping, and feed station of the Washington Co-op Egg and Poultry Association. A large bulb farm near the town once cultivated and harvested daffodil, tulip, narcissus, and iris bulbs for shipment to eastern and foreign markets. A large percentage...

Learn more about Woodland
Points of Interest
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Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens

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Planter’s Days

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Louis N. and Nellie Plamondon House

In the 1870s, La Center was an animated business center and head of navigation on the East Fork of the Lewis River. In late summer, the regular schedules of the river steamers Mascot and Walker, paddle-wheeling to Portland, were often interrupted by low water. Passengers and freight were transferred to scows, which were poled up the river or towed by horses along the bank. The picturesque transportation of the pioneer...

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Points of Interest
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La Center Wetlands Stewardship Park

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Sternwheeler Park

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John Pollock’s Grave

From 1926 until 1943 this campus operated as the Clark County Poor Farm. A poor farm had existed on the site since 1873. It is an historic district that encompasses 99 acres, 13 buildings, three sites and two structures, including the Administrative Building(s), agricultural buildings, a cemetery and Hazel Dell public park. The core buildings were built in the Renaissance style, of concrete and stucco. Poor farms declined with the...

Learn more about Southwest Washington Experiment Station

The seat of Clark County and oldest settlement in the State, is strategically located on the navigable lower Columbia River, north of Portland, Oregon, in an important agricultural region, within 40 miles of Bonneville Dam. Lumber and paper mills, docks, grain elevators, and canneries are concentrated on the riverside; a little farther back are breweries and other industrial concerns. The streets leading from the banks of the Columbia through the...

Learn more about Vancouver
Points of Interest
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Evergreen Hotel

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Charles and Laura Slocum House

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US National Bank Building

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John P. and Mary Kiggins House

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Elks Building

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Alfred and Mary Estelle Chumasero-Smith House

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Vancouver Telephone Building

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US Post Office

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St. James Cathedral

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Lowell M. Hidden and W. Foster Hidden Houses

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Vancouver Carnegie Library

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Clark County Courthouse

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Kiggins Theater

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House of Providence

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Pearson Field

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