Kelso is a city in the southwestern part of the U.S. state of Washington and is the county seat of Cowlitz County. At the 2010 census, the population was 11,925. Kelso is part of the Longview, Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of 102,410. Kelso shares its long western border with Longview. It is near Mount St. Helens.
Kelso is located on Interstate 5 at Exits 36, 39, 40 and 42, and is 48 miles (77 km) north of Portland, Oregon, 125 miles (201 km) south of Seattle, Washington, and 80 miles (130 km) from the Pacific Ocean beaches.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.50 square miles (22.01 km²), of which, 8.14 square miles (21.08 km²) is land and 0.36 square miles (0.93 km²) is water.
Three rivers, the Columbia, Cowlitz and Coweeman, running through Kelso were used as part of a historical transportation route from Portland, Oregon and the Puget Sound. Cowlitz steamboats were used as a source of transportation until 1918.
Kelso and Longview comprise the "Twin Cities" of southwest Washington.
As of the census of 2010, there were 11,925 people, 4,720 households, and 2,949 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,465.0 inhabitants per square mile (565.6/km²). There were 5,139 housing units at an average density of 631.3 per square mile (243.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 85.2% White, 0.8% African American, 2.1% Native American, 1.6% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 5.1% from other races, and 5.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11.3% of the population.
There were 4,720 households of which 34.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.9% were married couples living together, 17.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 7.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 37.5% were non-families. 28.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.05.
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