"Quaint Little Town well off the Highway" Saint Helens by glabah

Saint Helens Travel Guide: 7 reviews and 23 photos

Saint Helens was so named because of the once spectacular view of Mount Saint Helens once offered by the downtown core of the city. Today, even though the mountain is several thousand feet shorter (since the 1980 eruption), it is still possible to see a small sliver of the peak through the hills. Unfortunately, expansion of the industrial facilities in suburban Woodland, Washington on the other side of the river have also created a less than appealing foreground to the mountain, it is still far from an ugly place.

The old downtown core of Saint Helens is to some extent a place that time forgot. Many of the structures date to the 1920s to 1950s. At one time Portland Road was the major highway between Astoria, Rainier and Portland and thus downtown Saint Helens wasn't that far off the main road. However, new highway construction routed the "new" (for the 1950s) highway quite far away and further up the hill, leaving downtown well preserved but also somewhat forgotten by all except a relative few who venture here, plus locals and those who know the region well.

Regionally, it is still somewhat important, as it is the county seat of Columbia County and has the county courthouse (see above).

However, most of this is lost on the vast majority of the traffic, which passes "through" town some 2 miles / 3 km away on the current route of US Highway 30.

At one time a number of antique stores prospered here as downtown Saint Helens was known by collectors as a place to visit. However, the economic downturn of 2008 has not been easy on this market, and thus Saint Helens now has a number of store vacancies.

There are several restaurants, plus a local movie theatre, and a small park on the Columbia River.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Small City that is a remnant of a different era. Once you get off the highway, there are a number of local businesses including restaurants and small shops.
  • Cons:Only small attractions operate here, so there really isn't a huge reason for many people to stop.
  • In a nutshell:If you like off the beaten path places, downtown Saint Helens is probably a good place to take a look around.
  • Last visit to Saint Helens: Dec 2011
  • Intro Updated Dec 20, 2011
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