Kelso-Longview, WA (KEL)
Kelso lies on the eastern bank of the Cowlitz River, directly across from Longview. The 1912 Northern Pacific Railroad depot was renovated in the 1990s as a multimodal transportation center.
501 South First Avenue
Kelso, WA 98626
Annual Station Ridership (FY 2020): 17,015
- Facility Ownership: City of Kelso
- Parking Lot Ownership: BNSF Railway
- Platform Ownership: BNSF Railway
- Track Ownership: BNSF Railway
The Kelso Multimodal Transportation Center, the Amtrak station for this community, was originally built for the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1912. It became a station stop for Amtrak in 1981. The station underwent extensive renovation beginning in September 1994; it was formally rededicated on September 23, 1995. It is the region’s first multimodal center, as it includes commercial and intercity bus service.
The area that became Kelso, at the western foot of hills where the Cowlitz and Coweeman Rivers meet the Columbia River, was inhabited by people of the Cowlitz Tribe when European settlers arrived in 1855; members of that tribe still reside there today. In 1871-72, the Northern Pacific Railroad came to the Cowlitz Valley and built a short one-track line from Kalama to Commencement Bay that later became part of the transcontinental rail system. This line carried passengers and freight both ways on the east bank of the Cowlitz. At that time, the stop was called Crawfordville. In 1884, Peter Crawford, of Kelso, Scotland, officially founded the town of Kelso. It was a rowdy place at first, catering to local loggers and the lumber mills. In 1886, the Crawford family donated three and a half acres for a station house, and a small wooden structure was built.
The townspeople petitioned the Northern Pacific for a better passenger and freight depot in 1906. The brick passenger and wooden freight depot was built and the town held a grand opening reception on February 12, 1912. Although the interior of the building changed several times, the depot has continued to give good access to the public.
Kelso, which lies to the west of Mount Saint Helens, had a front-row seat for the eruption on May 18, 1980. Many areas of the city, notably the Three Rivers Shopping Mall, are built on volcanic ash dredged from the mudflow that went into the Cowlitz River.
Kelso lies on the eastern bank of the Cowlitz, directly across from Longview. Though Kelso is the county seat, Longview is the larger town. In 1918, timber baron Robert A. Long decided to move his operation out to the west coast due to dwindling supplies in the South. When moving out to their new mill, it became clear that the population of the small town of Kelso could not support the 14,000 men that would be required to run the mill. Therefore, the Long-Bell Company contracted with a city planner based in St. Louis, George Kessler, to build the city that could support the two planned mills.
Longview was incorporated on February 14, 1924; it had been built entirely with private funds, and was the only such city at the time. In July of 1928, Longview was given passenger service at a large brick station with a waiting room and a clock tower that could be seen for miles. However, the tracks were washed in a flood in December of 1933, and they never requested service again. Longview has diversified from its mill-town origins, but the lumber industry still remains very important there.
Longview has had several films shot there over the years, from God’s Country and the Woman (1937) to Into the Wild (2007) and Mindhunter (2008). It is also one of the few towns in the U.S. to have a bridge dedicated to squirrels. The “Nutty Narrows Bridge” surface was constructed in 1963 over Olympic Way, in front of the public library, from a retired fire hose and suspension cables made from wire. Longview is also the home of the largest pine nut collection in the United States, which is housed in the Northwest Nut and Conifer Preservation Center, owned and operated by a local enthusiast. Kelso is also host to an annual Highlander Festival of Scottish culture every September.
The Amtrak Cascades are primarily financed through funds made available by the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Station Building (with waiting room)
- Quik-Trak kiosks
- No ticket sales office
- Accessible Restrooms
- Vending Machines
- Amtrak Express shipping not available
- No checked baggage service
- No checked baggage storage
- Bike boxes not available
- No baggage carts
- Ski bags not available
- Bag storage not available
- Shipping boxes not available
- No baggage assistance
- Same-day parking is available; fees may apply
- Overnight parking is available; fees may apply
- Accessible platform
- Accessible Restrooms
- No accessible ticket office
- Accessible waiting room
- Accessible water fountain
- Accessible same-day parking is available; fees may apply
- Accessible overnight parking is available; fees may apply
- No high platform
- Wheelchair available
- Wheelchair lift available