Naselle is a little town in the southwest corner of Washington State, not far from the Columbia River estuary and from Willapa Bay, off the Pacific Ocean. Founded in the late 19th century by Finnish and Scandinavian immigrants — a history celebrated in a popular, award-winning children’s novel — Naselle is one of those places not likely ever to ascend into modern culture’s consciousness . . . but is also unlikely ever to leave the consciousness of anyone who’s lived there. Or visited.

The main industry used to be logging, but the recent downturn in the economy has hit the lumber industry pretty hard; there isn’t much logging being done right now. Fishing and farming almost qualify as industries of the past, too. But the people of the region seem to be enduring, and they welcome you to their biennial Finnish-American Folk Festival, the next one schedule for late July, 2010. The local school remains a cultural center. The churches will welcome you. The businesses will gladly serve you if you stop by. And, if you travel through in the autumn, you will see many hunters, in camouflage or orange vests.

You will find Naselle by traveling north from Astoria, Oregon, on State Highway 401; by traveling west on State Highway 4, from Longview through Wahkiakum County to the beach; or by traveling east on that same route, perhaps after turning off of Highway 101, south of South Bend.

The highways are well-patrolled. Speeding is not advised.

The area is also known for gray skies and rain: Be prepared for such weather at any time of the year. This has its salutary consequences, though: The vegetation is lush, the wildlife is abundant, and the human population does not over-tax the land or one’s patience. If you like green trees and fields, fresh water from the sky and in the creeks and rivers, and unpolluted, breathable air, Naselle may be an ideal stop for your next trip.

Oh, and don’t forget the town’s biennial folk festival this July.

Finally, “Tervetuloa” is Finnish for “welcome.” The descendants of other bloodlines welcome you, too. Kiitos. (Thank you.)

Welcome to Naselle

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