Pe Ell is located about 23 miles west of Interstate 5 and has a population of about 700.
The town got its name from the mispronunciation of the first name of French-Canadian trapper Pierre Charles, who settled in the area but had an unpronounceable name in the eyes of local Native Americans.
The Pe Ell School District is run out of one central school building, just off of U.S. Highway 6 running directly through town, that houses all K-12 students. The high school’s knowledge bowl team brought home state championship trophies in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
The school also enrolls most of the students from the neighboring Doty and Dryad communities.
The town has a medical clinic, a volunteer fire department, an ambulance crew, a full-time police department, programs for seniors, several churches, and a downtown business district.
The Northern Pacific Railway built a depot in town in 1897, and by 1907 the town’s population had grown to over 1,000. Two years later the town had a bank, three dry-goods stores, two general stores, three grocers, two barber shops, five saloons, four hotels, a newspaper, a blacksmith and an opera house.
Today the town still has a tavern and diner, bank, pizza parlor and two mini-marts, though the population is down to around 600.
One interesting site located just outside of town is the Walville Cemetery, a tiny site with about 20 marked and unmarked graves. The cemetery, outside the former Walville timber township, is the final resting place of Japanese children and those who worked in the area.
The turn-off for the cemetery is near the Pacific County line off of U.S. Highway 6, less than a mile down Walvillle Road. The tiny, gated cemetery is on the left.