Traveling 53 miles from Chehalis along Highway 6, today’s automobile traveler motors alongside original railroad track through timberland, picturesque dairy farms and over bubbling streams. Relatively untouched form the early 1900’s this area is a historic treat with the remaining towns reminiscent of the lumber industry’s thriving past.
The towns of Frances, Lebam and Menlo have developed into dairy farm communities. In Frances, a German-Swiss settlement, the Catholic Church is an outstanding feature. Several ethnic celebrations are held each year at the Swiss Picnic Grounds. Menlo is in the heart of the Willapa Valley agricultural district and has been the home of the Pacific County Fair every August since 1938.
In the early 1900’s Raymond was known as a wild lumber town built on stilts over the tidelands and sloughs. Twenty mills and several ship building factories lined the waterfront. During World War I, 1918-1919, ten wooden ships were launched ready for war. Today the prominent features are the Weyerhaeuser sawmill and the Raymond Public library which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Yearly festivals include the Willapa Harbor Festival, Fireman’s Muster and a river fishing Salmon Derby.
From Raymond, the traveler can take a 20-mile side trip to Tokeland along the northern shores of the Willapa Bay through the Shoalwater Indian Reservation. While in Tokeland, visitors can enjoy the historic Tokeland Hotel, a famous beach resort in the 1890’s.
South Bend has the flair of a sleepy fishing village and claims to be the Oyster Capital of the World. Many people throughout the world eat only oysters grown in the pristine waters of Willapa Bay.
South Bend is home to four National Register of Historic Places, one of which is the Courthouse. It is a majestic building, with a Tiffany-like glass interior dome, set on a hill overlooking the Willapa River. A walking tour guide provides an opportunity to explore all four places. Yearly festivals include an Oyster Stampeded and labor Day celebration.
Traveling south on Highway 101, the historic remnants of Bruceport, Nemah, and the town of Bay Center rest along 25 miles of Willapa Bay shoreline. Sightings of oystermen and barges working on the beds at low tide, elk herds, deer, birds, and other wildlife are bountiful.
Canoeing and kayaking along the shoreline is an adventure of chasing tides and weather changes. Campsites are available at Bruceport County park and parks in Bay Center and north River. Primitive campsites are available on Long Island in the Willapa Bay with plans to develop more around the Willapa Bay shoreline.
The Long Beach Peninsula is the hub of tourist activity during the summer, with a great variety of festivals and events. The Pacific Ocean hosts kite flying, beachcombing, walking, jogging, and 28 miles of drivable beaches. The Peninsula is home to the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and many other historic sites, nine of which are registered. Shipwrecks dot the coastline. The Peninsula is on the corner of the Pacific Ocean and the mighty Columbia River, providing a variety of boating experiences.
The abundance of county waterways – ocean, bay , rivers, lakes, streams – provides a great variety of fishing opportunities from surf fishing, charter fishing, salmon fishing, trout and steelhead fishing to bottom fishing, golfing, hunting, hiking, tennis and swimming also available within the county.
Past and present small towns along the Columbia River, such as Naselle, Megler and Chinook are steeped in history as lumber towns, fishing villages and farmllands. Fort Columbia, Fort Canby, Cape Disappointment Lighthouse and North Head Lighthouse are a walk through a historic time of military defenses and United State territorial exploration.
The peaceful, scenic drive along Highway 4, through the valleys and hills of Pacific and Wahkiakum counties completes the corridor. Wind surfing, sail boating, fishing, picknicking and watching ocean going ships head for the ports of Longview, Vancouver and Portland are a few of the delights found along the way back to the busy, bustling life of freeway travel.
Pacific County is a semi-hidden jewel, enjoyed in the early days as the playground of summer residents – and newly discovered by many tourists today as a place to enjoy a great variety of experiences.
Pacific County Economic Development Council
408 Second Street
Raymond, WA 98577