1980 - 1999

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 Continental Grain was shut-down.

Circa 1980s

  • 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.

The 1990s

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.


  • J. Walter Barham is elected Port Commissioner.
  • 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.