History of the Port of Longview
Establishment of the Port of Longview was made possible by the 1911 Washington law that first authorized citizens to form port districts. In 1921 local citizens voted to authorize the creation of a port district and the Port of Kelso was established. Its history, including the change to the Port of Longview, spans almost a century.
This history section highlights significant events during each decade that shaped the Port's history.
Longview began as the dream of one man; Robert A. Long, who chose Longview as the site for the Long-Bell Lumber Company, at that time the largest lumber mill in the world. Mill executives built the city of Longview, and employed over 3,000 people. Within a decade, the Port, Longview Fibre and Weyerhaeuser followed, expanding rapidy to serve the growing timber industry. The era was one of growth and optimism, coined by the term "Roaring 20s."
- Lumberman Robert A. Long chose present day Longview as the site for the Long-Bell Lumber Company.
- Business leaders saw the need for a port district and rallied local voters to approve one. State statute required port districts to be named after the largest city in the district. Since Longview had yet to be established the new port was named Port of Kelso. Its location was on the Cowlitz River. Port district geographic boundaries encompassed Longview and Kelso.
- The Long Bell Lumber Company officially dedicated the city of Longview on July 12, 1923.
- The Long-Bell Lumber Company began construction of its first plant on 2,000 acres of waterfront property (on and surrounding present day Port of Longview property).
- Business leaders favored relocating the Port of Kelso from the Cowlitz River to the foot of Oregon Way on the Columbia River. Commissioners issue bonds for the original land purchase of 40 acres and began constructing the first dock.The geographic boundaries of the district were expanded to include the northern two-thirds of Cowlitz County, an area of 836 square miles.
- The first cargo crossed the Port's new dock; officially dedicated on April 15, 1926. The name "Port of Kelso" could be seen in large letters on a warehouse.
- During the nine months the Port operated in 1926, a total of 72,000 tons of freight moved across its docks.
- The Weyerhaeuser Timber Company purchased 700 acres from the Long-Bell Lumber Company for construction of a lumber manufacturing plant.
- The Longview Fibre Company selected Longview as the location for a pulp-paper mill. The first phase started up in 1927.
- Port tonnage increased to 136,000 tons carried on 190 ocean vessels and 1,500 river steamers.
- The Port built a grain elevator and leased it to the Longview Elevator Company.
- Congress gave approval for construction of the Longview-Rainier Bridge (later renamed the Lewis and Clark Bridge).
- The Georgiana, a passenger steamer, docked at the Port to pick up passengers traveling to and from Portland, Oregon.
- Port tonnage increased to 246,000 tons carried on 312 ocean vessels and 1,200 river steamers.
- Longview citizens wanted the name of their port to accurately reflect where it was located. A vote was put forth and local voters authorized the Port of Kelso to be renamed the Port of Longview.
- The first log rolled through Weyerhaeuser Timber Company's lumber manufacturing plant.
- The Longview-Rainier Bridge was completed and tolls were instituted to pay for its construction.
- In the early 1930s State Steamship Company vessels docked at the Port to load lumber, paper products and passengers for transport to the Orient.
- A flood inundated the county but dikes built by the Long-Bell Lumber Company held strong and protected the Longview area. Other areas, particularly along the Cowlitz River, suffered considerable damage, including destruction of Long-Bell's railroad.
- The Long-Bell Lumber Company filed for bankruptcy, then filed a reorganization plan in the Kansas City federal court in 1935.
- Robert A. Long died on March 15, 1934.
- Lower Columbia "Junior College" opened.
- The Port's grain elevator was leased to Continental Grain Company, which operated it until the mid-1980's.
- The Long-Bell Lumber Company built its white mill headquarters building, known today as the "White House."
- The Port Dock Pavilion hosted performances for top bands on tour.
- Compared to the hardships experienced during the 30s, World War II created new jobs, new industry, and brought economic growth to Cowlitz County. Local industries increased production to meet wartime needs. Reynolds Metals Company entered the manufacturing scene by building an aluminum plant. Port docks were busy with exports of government issued lend-lease war materials for Russia and Great Britain.
- December 7, 1941 - Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II.
- Reynolds Metals Company chose Longview for an aluminum plant, based on the abundance of cheap hydroelectric power. Production began in time to meet wartime defense needs. After December 1941, all of Longview's industries became defense plants and ran night and day for the war effort.
- The Port of Longview became the main supply base for lend-lease shipping to Russia. Every week, three to four full shiploads of government issued war equipment and materials were exported across Port docks to Russia and Great Britain.
- Fifty-thousand flatcars and components for the construction of three complete oil refineries were shipped through the Port.
- War shipping agencies reported that 650,000 tons of cargo left Longview docks on ships or barges. Each vessel carried about 7,000 tons at an average value of $4.5 million per load. Shipments included military equipment, war materials, food and supplies, tanks, aluminum, magnesium ingots, locomotives and railroad cars.
- Ninety percent of the wood products from Weyerhaeuser supplied the war effort.
- Longview Fibre Company stepped up its manufacturing of kraft paper strong enough for shipping flour, sugar, stock feed, fertilizer and other war supplies.
- Harvey Hart became general manager of the Port.
- The Port constructed a new dock to accommodate increased lend-lease and military supply shipments.
- President Truman announced the surrender of Japan, and the end of World War II.
- A joint Longview-Kelso / Cowlitz County airport commission became a community project.
- Longview celebrated its 25th anniversary.
- A spring flood on the Columbia River caused millions of dollars of damage to Cowlitz County, destroying crops, shattering homes and halting industry and business. The dikes around Longview, Kelso and Willow Grove held, thanks to the efforts of a determined community.
The economic rebound of the 40s continued into the 50s and Cowlitz County's industrial base continued to grow. Harvey Hart, new general manager of the Port, aggressively pursued new cargos to replace wartime exports, which ceased at the end of World War II. He also obtained "Terminal Port" status, allowing the Port to handle otherwise unattainable cargos.
- The Port of Longview was the first small port on the Pacific Coast to be granted "Terminal Port" status, designating it as one of only six ports in the transpacific route. The other ports were Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Tacoma and Seattle.
- Harvey Hart launched a campaign to persuade industries in the Midwest and East to ship through the Port.
- Japanese ships returned to Longview for the first time since the end of World War II. They regularly loaded logs and other materials.
- Cargo piled up at Port docks because of a labor shortage. Beaver Ammunition Storage Depot had priority of longshore workers, which drained the supply of local crews.
- Total Port tonnage reached 2.3 million tons.
- Total Port tonnage reached 2.6 million tons.
- The Port obtained firebrick exports through a regularly scheduled freighter service. Ships returned loaded with Philippine beer and hardwoods. A warehousing and distribution system was put together to handle the trade. Cargos grew to incude imports of rattan furniture, foodstuffs and toys.
- Weyerhaeuser Timber Company announced plans to build chemical paper plants.
- A $1.5 million port expansion bond paid for another dock, more cranes and additional warehouses to handle the rising tonnage and diversified cargo entering and leaving the Port.
- International Paper Compan (IP) purchased all remaining holdings of the Long-Bell Lumber Company. Operations were renamed IP-Long-Bell division.
- Expansion of the Port's grain elevator leased by Continental Grain Company was necessary in order to accommodate increasing grain exports. Another grain storage shed was built, doubling capacity. The volume handled was second only to Portland, and ahead of Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver and Astoria ports.
- The Port handled heavy-lift hydroelectric generating equipment destined for the Priest Rapids Dam on the Columbia River.
- The Port acquired a new gantry crane, which more than doubled its capacity to load and unload bulk products.
- The Port shipped war materials and supplies to Korea.
The 1960s brought booming retail and industrial growth and transportation improvements. Access into Longview from I-5 was improved. Port expansions included construction of Berth 7 on land formerly occupied by the Long-Bell Lumber Company, construction of an alumina ore import facility at Berth 5, and expansion of the grain elevator. A computerized cargo tracking system was developed to manage the Port's rapidly growing warehouse and distribution business.
- The Port constructed a new office building at the end of Port Way. Administrative staff still occupy the building today.
- The Port constructed a new bulk facility at Berth 5 to handle inbound alumina for the Reynolds Metals Company.
- On October 12, 1962 the Columbus Day storm left a trail of damage running into millions of dollars.
- International Paper Company announced plans for a milk container plant.
- The Port developed a computerized cargo tracking system for nationwide distribution of import merchandise. An updated version of this system is still used today.
- The Port purchased 37 acres of real estate from International Paper Company.
- Weyerhaeuser announced it would begin producing fine papers and specialty plywood, and build a new chlorine and caustic soda plant.
- Reynolds Metals Company marked its 20th anniversary.
- Longview Fibre Company launched a $25 million expansion to boost production.
- Tolls were removed from the Longview-Rainier Bridge on October 19, 1965.
- The Port's largest project to date, development of Berth 7, marked the beginning of an upriver expansion on property formerly occupied by the Long-Bell Lumber Company. The completion of the berth resulted in 4,000 lineal feet of berth space, enough to accommodate six ships at once.
- Portland General Electric Company announced plans to construct the world's largest nuclear-power generating plant near Rainier, Oregon.
- Port Commissioners approved the purchase of 266 acres of property in Willow Grove as a future industrial site.
- The Longview Wye and Harry Morgan Bridge over the Cowlitz River were constructed, giving better access to I-5.
- The war in Vietnam escalated, more young people were drafted, and protest activity increased.
- The Port constructed a new two-million bushel capacity elevator at the grain elevator facility leased by Continental Grain Company.
In the 1970s containerization began to make a strong impact on world trade and an increasing number of products were being imported from the Orient. A large percentage of Port operations involved warehousing and distribution of merchandise. Warehouse 18 was built to accommodate S. S. Kresge (K-Mart). A heavy-lift crane was installed to handle large imported cargo, and the Port continued to handle forest products, bulks and breakbulks.
- The Port was handling close to six million tons of cargo annually. It was the third largest port in Washington and the second largest on the Columbia River. Principal commodities included outbound grain, logs, lumber, pulp, aluminum, paper, foodstuffs and machinery. Inbound commodities included canned goods, plywood, veneer, earthenware, tapioca, tea, wire, toys and dry goods.
- The Columbia Giant heavylift crane, rated at 600 tons, was installed at Berth 3, specifically to handle massive nuclear containment tanks for the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant under construction near Rainier, Oregon.
- Portland General Electric dedicated the 499-foot cooling tower at the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant in May 1972.
- Longview Fibre Company announced a two-step expansion plan to add another paper machine.
- Bob McNannay became General Manager of the Port in December 1973.
- Reynolds Metals Company announced a major pollution control program.
- Warehouse 18 was constructed to accommodate the S. S. Kresge Company, a Port warehouse and distribution customer. In 1977 the S. S. Kresge Company name was changed to Kmart Corporation.
- The Port purchased 41 acres of real estate from International Paper Company. In 1980 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers used the site to place sand and ash dredged from the Columbia River after Mount St. Helens erupted.
- International Paper Company laid off its cabinet division and other workers.
The eruption of Mount St. Helens became the defining moment of the 1980s. At the Port of Longview one cargo handling record after another was set, all based on strong log exports. As the decade closed the mix of cargos crossing Port docks continued to diversify.
- A 30-ton Krupp container crane was installed at Berth 7 and a container storage area was established.
- International Raw Materials began operating the bulk facility at Berth 2.
- Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980.
- The first sugar beet pellets moved across the Port's docks for export to Japan.
- The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) of the Port of Longview, Washington was created. Its purpose was to provide a public corporation through which tax-exempt non-recourse revenue bonds could be issued to finance industrial development facilities within the Port District boundaries. The Port's IDC was the first created in the State of Washington. It continues today.
- The Cowlitz Economic Development Council was formed.
- Arco Products Company rebuilt the former alumina unloading facility at Berth 5 as a new export terminal for calcined petroleum coke.
- Two concrete silos were constructed at Berth 5, giving Arco 40,000 tons of calcium petroleum coke storage capacity. Annual export volume doubled to almost one-half million tons.
- Soda ash shipments through the Port exceeded 800,000 tons annually, making the Port the major outlet for soda ash on the Pacific Coast.
- Ken O'Hollaren became the executive director of the Port in January.
- The Port's performance earned the "E" Award for Exporting from President Ronald Reagan. Port Commissioners traveled to Washington, D.C. to receive the award.
- Coal tar pitch ranked as the Port's largest and most consistent import.
- The Port began its single largest facility development project in more than 20 years, a $5.2 million project to make Berth 2 an environmentally sound facility for handling a wide range of dry-bulk export cargos.
- The Port began to develop a strategic plan for a major new industrial park on the Columbia River.
- The grain elevator leased by Continential Grain was shut-down.
- The Longview-Rainier Bridge was renamed the Lewis and Clark Bridge.
- By the end of the 1980s, Japan, China and Australia had become the Port's main international trading partners. The mix of cargos crossing Port docks continued to diversify and included coal-tar pitch, chemical fertilizers, zircon sand, talc and animal feed.
- International Paper Company began demolishing the old Long-Bell Company lumber sheds.
Cowlitz County's economic dependence on timber and natural resources began to shift. Several new manufacturing plants were located in the area, helping to diversify the economy. The Port continued its strategic plan to develop an industrial park for new industry. Bulk and breakbulk cargos increased and forest products exports began to decline. A container crane was renovated to handle bulk imports.
- The Port's renovated drybulk export facility at Berth 2 began operating.
- The Port and six other public ports on the lower Columbia River entered into an agreement to fund the local share of a proposed feasibility study for deepening the Columbia River shipping channel.
- The Port entered into an interlocal agreement with the City of Kelso, City of Longview and Cowlitz County to establish a Regional Airport Authority.
- The 30-ton Krupp container crane at Berth 7 was retrofitted with clamshell buckets, allowing the crane to unload dry bulk commodities while still retaining its container handling capacity.
- Global recession and overcapacity plagued companies such as Weyerhaeuser and Longview Fibre Company.
- Reynolds Metals closed two potlines.
- Portland General Electric Co. announced plans to close the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant. Work on decommissioning the plant began.
- Log exports continued to slide while dry-bulk exports surpassed one million tons.
- The Port installed new vertical pallet storage systems with racks in Warehouse 16, more than doubling its size.
- The Port purchased 120 acres of real estate from International Paper Company for future industrial park use. The property housed Long-Bell Lumber Company's timber sheds, which were torn down. The giant beams made from old-growth timber were sold throughout the world. Some of the beams were used to build Microsoft founder Bill Gates' new Lake Washington home in Seattle.
- The Port celebrated its 75th anniversary.
- The Port began development of the Industrial Rail Corridor to provide more efficient rail access to the Industrial Park.
- BHP Coated Steel located in Kalama.
- Prudential Steel located at the Mint Farm Industrial Park.
- Nitta Gelatin of Japan unveiled plans to locate at the Mint Farm.
- Foster Farms began building a poultry processing plant in Kelso.
- The Port constructed a floating walkway to accommodate cruise ship customer Queen of the West.
- The Flood of 1996 resulted in $319 million in damage. It was considered the worst natural disaster since the eruption of Mount St. Helens.
- The Port purchased 75 acres of real estate from International Paper Company. The site included the White House and other buildings.
- PDM General Steel located in Woodland.
- The Port purchased 158 acres of real estate from International Paper Company. The site included waterfront property. Construction of Berth 8 began.
- The Port dedicated Berth 8, the newest berth in 30 years, on October 5, 2000.
- The historic rose bushes and plum trees planted by the Long-Bell Lumber Company were transplanted to accommodate improvements to International Way.
- The Reynolds Metals Company merged with Alcoa, who then sold the plant to Michael Lynch's company, Longview Aluminum.
- Brown-Strauss Steel located at the Port.
- North American Pipe and Steel (Napsteel) located at the Port. The company was the first tenant to locate at the Industrial Park.
- Kinder Morgan assumed the operating agreement at Berth 2 from International Raw Materials.
- Prudential Steel closed its doors at the Mint Farm Industrial Park.
- Mirant Energy announced plans to build an energy plant at the Mint Farm Industrial Park.
- Michael Lynch (Longview Aluminum) declared bankruptcy and closed the former Reynolds Metals Company plant. Aluminum plants throughout the region also closed, due to a West Coast power crisis. The Port was impacted by reduced volumes of imported coal tar pitch used by the aluminum plant.
- The September 11, 2001 terrorist bombings of the World Trade Center in New York City resulted in new legislation and security requirements for ports throughout the nation.
- The Port began construction of the Industrial Rail Corridor and completed Phase 1, the Fibre Way Overpass, in March, 2002.
- Sause Bros. began operating a barge service to the Hawaiian Islands through the Port's ro/ro berth.
- A West Coast dockworkers lock out caused cargo delays.
- Weyerhaeuser Company merged with Willamette Industries.
- The Port declared a six-acre parcel, including five warehouse buildings, surplus to its needs and sold it to Wood's Logging Supply.
- The Port handled its first shipments of wind energy cargo.
- The U.S. declared war on Iraq.
- The Port restricted all public access to its terminals in compliance with legislation implemented since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
- The Port's Industrial Rail Corridor was officially opened for business with the arrival of 2,500 Union Pacific rail cars carrying soda ash for export at the Berth 2 terminal.
- Port Commissioners authorized the sale of 35 acres of land at the West Industrial Park to Simpson Timber Company of Tacoma, Washington.
- Port Commissioners authorized the sale of 35 acres of land at the West Industrial Park to R & R Trading Company of Delta, B.C., Canada.
- MedBulk Maritime Limited began shipping wood pulp through the Port.
- Port continues to handle imports of wind energy cargo.
- International Salt Company begins shipping Chilean salt through the Port.
- Port Commissioner Larry Larson retires after 29 years as commissioner. Roger Allen is appointed to fill his position.
- Commissioner Darold Dietz joins the Commission in December.
- Commissioners Bob Bagaason takes the oath of office in January.
- Port welcomes 4.6 million dollar crane for heavy lift cargo.
- Port handles wind energy blades for export for the first time.
- Port sells Willow Grove property for wetland preservation.
- Port sets record year, operating revenue reaches all time high.
- Port signs lease for first export grain terminal built in the United States in more than 25 years.
- Port of Longview named 2009 Port of the Year by Washington Public Ports Association
- Sets another operating record, second year in a row.
- Logs, which became a scarce comodity in the 1990s, have resurfaced as a stronghold cargo at the Port.
- Port signs Skyline Steel as a new tenant in the West Industrial Park.
- Port purchases 275 acres down river, known as the Barlow Point property, for future development.
- Sets third consecutive record revenue year.