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 bulk of the population today. Swordferns, which grow prolifically in the region, and which can he processed for medicinal uses, were picked by several hundred men, women, and children every fall. In the spring, the countryside was searched for cascara bark, large quantities of which are dried and shipped.
Touted as the “Gateway to Mount St. Helens,” the Mount St. Helens National Monument and Spirit Lake recreation areas are less than an hour away. Castle Rock’s historic downtown features a wide variety of shops, restaurants, and accommodations. Other activities include the Castle Rock Exhibit Hall/Visitor’s Information Center, which displays carvings, photographs and exhibits relating to Mount St. Helens.