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Town of Pe Ell

     The town of Pe Ell is located on the western edge of Lewis County along Highway 6 and the Chehalis River.

     In 1897, the North Pacific Railway built a depot in town and the population began to boom. The town was incorporated in 1906 and had a population of about 1,000 in 1907. According to Wikipedia, “the rich agricultural and timber resources of the region attracted farmers, millworkers and loggers. By 1909, the town had a bank, three dry goods stores, two general stores, three grocery stores, two barber shops, five saloons, four hotels, a newspaper, a blacksmith and even an opera house.” Today the population is about 640.

     Town hall is located at 111 S Main St., Pe Ell, WA  98572. Business hours are Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The town council meets on the first and third Tuesdays at 6 p.m.

     Phone: (360) 291-3543, E-mail:

Jake Morgan / Lewis County Tribune

street view of Pe Ell Town Hall

Fat Tires Roll Through Pe Ell

By Jake Morgan, staff writer

     PE ELL, Wash. — Nearly 300 riders bicycled from Chehalis to Pe Ell along the picturesque Willapa Hills Trail on June 23-24, camping overnight in Pe Ell and riding back to Chehalis the next day.

     Pe Ell community planners worked hard to offer the Saturday evening festival, which includes music outside the Pe Ell pub, a scavenger hunt, a quilt show and a frisbee golf tournament. Many riders attend church services on Sunday morning before returning to Chehalis.

     The Ride the Willapa Festival gets its name from the gentle-grade, paved and gravel trail. The event begins and ends at the Veterans Memorial Museum, located at 100 SW Veterans Way, Chehalis, WA 98532, with a festival and campout in Pe Ell Saturday night.

     Community members said they continue to see bicyclists using the Willapa Hills Trail weeks after the event and community planners say they are excited to have this event again next year.

     Find out more and register for the ride online at or follow the event on Facebook at or on Twitter and Instagram @ridethewillapa.

Engineers and supervisors review plans for a proposed dam.

HDR engineering manager Keith Moen explains schematics to engineers and supervisors at the proposed dam site in 2017.

Photo by Jake Morgan / Lewis County Tribune

Dam Could Mitigate Chehalis Floods

By Jake Morgan, staff writer

     PE ELL — Regional planners are making progress to mitigate periodic flooding in the Chehalis River Basin with a new proposal to construct a flood retention dam south of the town of Pe Ell in western Lewis County.

     Engineers and supervisors with the Chehalis River Basin Flood Control Zone District met in September 2017 to tour the proposed site of a flood retention facility on Weyerhaeuser land in a narrow valley surrounded by steep rock walls.

     Currently there are three similar retention dam options being considered for the location, all three of which would have the same flood reduction benefit of withholding 65,000 acre-feet of flood water.

     Keith Moen, engineering manager at HDR, said dam and water retention technology has improved a lot in the past 30 or 40 years. Moen said the proposed designs are similar in function to the Mud Mountain Dam on the lower White River and Puyallup River valleys and the Howard Hansen Dam on the Green River, both in Washington state.

     The primary function of the retention dam would be to hold back flood waters during storms like the flood that inundated the city of Chehalis and shut down Interstate 5 in late 2007.

     “This won’t prevent the Chehalis area from flooding in the future but it will help,” Moen said.

     The first proposal for the Chehalis River dam project would contain drop-down gates that only retain water during a flood and allow the river to naturally flow beneath the dam the rest of the time. The second proposal would retain water throughout the year and have the capacity to hold additional water during a flood. The third proposal is similar to the first proposal in that it would only retain water during a flood, but it is designed to be expanded in the future to provide increased storage capacity for flood waters, should the need arise.

     Flood district supervisor and Lewis County Commissioner Edna Fund said she was most interested in the expandable retention option.

     All three proposals are designed with a spillover safety feature at the top should the retention dam ever reach capacity. All three proposals include provisions for fish passage and none of the current proposals include plans for hydroelectric power generation. Each of the proposals are expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars with materials sourced from local rock quarries.

     For more information on the Chehalis Basin Strategy, visit

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