The ride from Castle Rock to Johnston’s Ridge Observatory is now accompanied by a personal guide, as the Cowlitz County Historical Society kicked off an audio tour titled “Journey to Johnston Ridge” on Friday.
“I’m very excited,” said Joseph Govednik, director of the Cowlitz County Historical Museum. “This is an opportunity to offer something unique and local to improve the history and the tourist experience. “
The Audio Tour is a seven-track CD or digital download that allows drivers to start on State Route 504 at Castle Rock and drive up to Johnston Ridge, listening to a tale of the history of the area.
“Much of it focuses on the 1980 eruption,” Govednik said, but the hour-long tour also describes natural features and other stories.
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“This is the story of what you might see as you drive, like reforestation after the devastation of the explosion,” he said. “It talks about part of the region’s natural history and covers only a wide range of topics.”
The free tour is divided into segments, timed to match a driver’s speed following the speed limit up to SR 504.
One track will take drivers from Castle Rock to the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center, the next from the Visitor Center to Toutle and then to Kid Valley. From Kid Valley, the next trail describes the journey to the Forest Learning Center, then to the Science Learning Center before the final trail takes visitors to the Johnston Ridge Observatory.
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Govednik said the right timing required a lot of uphill and downhill rides on the mountain, but “we feel like we made it up.”
Download is available at cowlitzcountyhistory.org, and CDs are currently available at the Mount St. Helen Museum and Visitor Center at Seaquest State Park. Other locations will be added next week to include the Kelso-Longview Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center in Kelso, local hotels and, once reopened, the Castle Rock Visitor Information Center, has declared Govednik.
If you’re using a phone, he said it’s important to download the trails before you go because cell service is limited on the mountain. Each CD also has a QR code on the jacket which can be scanned to download the tour.
“We wanted it to be available for free,” Govednik said. “We want to use it to encourage tourism and to raise awareness of Cowlitz County and the impact of Mount St. Helens in particular.”
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Production of the audio tour and CDs was funded by a county and museum tax grant, Govednik said. He applied for the grant after seeing the potential of a car driving experience.
The project received a county grant of $ 2,250 in 2020, but the deadline for using the funds has been extended until the end of 2021 due to COVID-19. The Cowlitz County Historical Society has covered the remaining 25% of the total $ 3,000 project, he said.
“We got this idea for an audio tour that goes up State Route 504, to the Johnston Ridge Observatory from Castle Rock,” he said. “We started asking people if they had heard of anyone else who had done it before, and it seems no one has.”
Once the conductors reach the Johnston Ridge Observatory, Govednik said there will be a place for people to leave the CDs if they don’t want to keep them, allowing the tours to be recycled for recycling. others can use them. The Seaquest Visitor Center and Museum will also pick up CDs.
“Or, people take it home with them and give it to a friend,” he said. “Then they could come down and visit. “