Unless otherwise noted, all photos on this page are in the RHP Private Collection.
The Village in the Woods
Ryderwood Street Scenes
Ryderwood Improvement & Service Association
305 Morse Street; P. O. Box 143; Ryderwood, WA 98581
T: 360-295-3651; F: 360-295-3690; RISARyderwood@outlook.com
Ryderwood, Washington, is a unique and historic little village at the beginning of State Route 506 West in the northwest corner of Cowlitz County. Located almost exactly halfway between Seattle and Portland, I-5 Exit 59 ("Vader / Ryderwood / SR 506") will take you there. The highway meanders west for 9 miles through Vader and Lewis County before arriving in Cowlitz County's Village in the Woods.
A Planned Community - Twice!
"The World's Largest Logging Town": The town originated in the early 1920s when the Long-Bell Lumber Co. chose Ryderwood's virgin timber and Longview's Columbia River port for its expansion into the Pacific Northwest. Both towns were built from the ground up with the goal of attracting and keeping reliable employees. All operations were state-of-the-art. Between 1923 and 1926, 400 single-family homes, a full-service mercantile, first-aid station, school, post office, church, gas station, theater, and jewelry store were built in Ryderwood. The maximum population reached approximately 2,000. (See Histories: Loggers.)
"Planned Community for Retired Persons": By the early 1950s, the virgin timber that was supposed to take 100 years to fell and be reforested was gone in only 30 thanks to improvements in technology, such as diesel, chainsaws and bulldozers. No longer in need of a large labor force, Long-Bell hung out the "For Sale" sign. That's when an ambitious entrepreneur named Harry Kem and several partners purchased the entire town for $96,000 and established what would become the oldest continuously-operating retirement community in the country. (See Histories: Retirees.)
Today, the 55+ retirement community is managed by the Ryderwood Improvement & Service Association. The Community page tells about life in Ryderwood. Click on the green button to view the RISA Bylaws. See Contact to reach the town office. Websites such as Zillow, Redfin and Trulia are sources for properties that are currently for sale. Maruta Hiegel is a Windermere Realtor who lives in Ryderwood.