Top: Advertisement for Long-Bell "Oklahoma Houses By Mail"; Middle: Longview homes, 9-25-1923; Bottom: Ryderwood homes, 6-9-1924.
The Village in the Woods
1926 Street Scenes
Above: Longview's Hotel Monticello, architect Alexander Torbitt, photo date 1-31-1924;
Below: Former Ryderwood Tavern, architect E. N. Larry, photo date 2-2-1926.
Ryderwood History Project
303 Morse St.; P. O. Box 114; Ryderwood, WA 98581
After meticulous research, the virgin forest surrounding Cougar Flats (now Ryderwood) was selected as the primary timber source to for the modern mills to to be built on the Columbia River at today's Longview. Both communities have a founding date of 1923 and were built simultaneously from the ground up. Longview was the largest planned city ever built with private funds, and $1.5 million was spent to build Ryderwood. All before the first log was cut. (See Follow the Logs.)
All operations were state-of-the-art and these were the days when rail was king. All planning was done even before logging operations began. Wesley Vandercook led a 100-member crew in 1921 to survey the timber holdings and develop a relief map that was used to plan the rail lines into the woods. Previously, they just laid rail until they could go no farther, then back out and start over. Pictured below is the relief map in its original Kelso location, but it was later installed in Ryderwood. Forty feet by sixty feet! See Follow the Logs for more information on the LP&N railroad.
Little known is Long-Bell developed a market for home floor plans with pre-cut building supplies as part of its "tree-to-trade" business model well before expanding into the Pacific Northwest. Comparing construction of both towns, this practice was, no doubt, used to build Longview and Ryderwood.
Learn more about the Long-Bell years:
The cruisers that first surveyed the area's timber for possible purchase. Seated is Wm. F. ("Uncle Bill") Ryder. Second from left is local, Harold Dobbins, who provided the crew with horses and gear. Date about 1918. RHP private collection.
Note: All photos on this page are provided by the Longview Public Library's Longview Room or in the public domain (Internet) unless otherwise captioned.
Reforestation - The Legend Lives On
Portrait of "Uncle Bill" Ryder. R. A. Long personally named Ryderwood after him.
Long-Bell, having seen the need of reforestation in the South, determined that at no time would it permit its timber lands in the West to become depleted. As a result, they instituted a five-year program of reforestation of its timber land holdings in the State of Washington immediately after the company began operations there. In connection with this program, a large forest nursery was established near Ryderwood, Washington, for the production of plant stock sufficient to complete the stocking of from three to four thousand acres of land annually. (Top photo, Longview Daily News article; bottom, RHP private collection - the sign is posted on SR 506 between Vader and Ryderwood. Photo taken 12-13-2017.)
The Long-Bell Years
A Tale of Two Towns
The scope of this project was immense, even by today's standards. In order to attract a huge and reliable workforce, Long-Bell built not one, but two family-friendly towns! While Longview was a showplace of a city, the "real town" of Ryderwood meant loggers could sleep in their own beds at night. Ryderwood had 400 single-family homes and reached a maximum population of approximately 2,000.
Both towns had the same amenities, Ryderwood's just weren't quite as grand. Both had a mercantile, a community hall, school, community church, theater, hospital and hotel. Longview's hotel was the Monticello, Ryderwood's was the Tavern - yet liquor was not available in either town. R. A. Long maintained an apartment in the Monticello to use when he was in Washington.