The Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum is located at 1101 Sylvenus Street, Chehalis, WA. Its goal is to preserve the logging and railroading heritage of Southwest Washington State in general and Lewis County in particular. Lewis County covers an area from Snoqualmie National Forest in the east to the western slopes of the Coast Range.
The organisation started in 1986 as the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad Association, founded by a group of local people with the aim of restoring Cowlitz, Chehalis & Cascade #15 to operation. The locomotive was then on display in a park in Chehalis. Passenger excursions started three years later. In 2006, the association changed its name to the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum.
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Presently, the Chehalis-Centralia is one of the few steam powered railroads in Washington State. It runs excursions each year during summer over about twelve miles of track. Unless it is down for operational reasons, all the trips are hauled by CC&C #15.
The Mikado type (2-8-2) locomotive was built in 1916 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works as #200 for the Clear Lake Lumber Co. at Clear Lake, in Skagit County, WA. It was lettered for the Puget Sound & Cascade Railway, which was operated by Clear Lake, and worked hauling logs on Clear Lake's mainline until the company went bankrupt in 1926. Baldwin then repossessed #200 as it had not been fully paid for.
The locomotive weighs 179,000 lbs, 141,500 lbs on its 48” drivers. It has a driver wheelbase of 13’ 1” and engine wheelbase of 27’ 1”. An oil burner, it has a 41.3 sq ft grate, 154 sq ft firebox and a total heating surface of 3,029, including 553 sq ft superheating (relatively uncommon in logging locomotives). With 25½” x 28” cylinders, it operates at a boiler pressure of 160 psi delivering 33,340 lbs tractive effort.
The thirty-two mile CC&C was built to haul lumber out of South Lewis County to a connection with the NP, GN, UP and Milwaukee Road at the line’s western terminus in Chehalis. Plans to build another one hundred and forty miles east to Yakima were never realised.
Above, a composite view of #15’s backhead.
The CC&C went into receivership in 1932 but was rescued in part by a consortium of the NP, GN, UP and Milwaukee Road in 1933. In 1952, however, the Long Bell Lumber Co., which accounted for 90% of its business, announced it was ceasing operation in the area. The company also learned that the city of Tacoma was planning to build two dams on the Cowlitz River, one of which would cover a bridge and three miles of its track.
By 1954, the railway's freight service had fallen to one round trip per week (prior to that, it had made five trips a week). Soon after, abandonment of the CC&C was authorised by the Interstate Commerce Commission.
Above, #15 waits for the passengers to board. The depot building was originally built by the Milwaukee Road in downtown Chehalis. It was purchased privately, donated to the museum and moved to the site in 1995.
After the Cowlitz, Chehalis & Cascade was abandoned in 1955, #15 was donated to the City of Chehalis and went on display in a city park. Then, after the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad Association was
founded in 1986, the locomotive was moved the Mt. Rainier Railroad's Mineral Shops where it spent two years being restored. The
association also acquired a number of passenger carriages.
Milburn is the destination for the railroad’s regular passenger runs. #15 changes ends here and starts the return journey in reverse. However, the railroad’s Dinner Train and 5.00 pm Saturday coach trains do not stop here, but continue another two and a half miles along the banks of the Chehalis River to Ruth.
This line was originally built to connect Willapa Harbor in south west Washington state with Chehalis, and it eventually became a coastal branch line of the Milwaukee Road. In the 1930s, it was bought by the Weyerhaeuser Company and connected with the Northern Pacific at Milburn. When Weyerhaeuser abandoned the line in 1993, it was bought by the Port of Chehalis.
This is one of several
2-6-6-2T (Tank) Mallets built by Baldwin for Northwest logging railroads.
Delivered as #8 in 1924
to Bloedel Donovan Lumber Mills in Alger & Saxon Camp, WA, it is the sole surviving locomotive of its type with square tanks. In 1945, Bloedel Donovan was bought by Rayonier Inc., and #8 was moved
to Clallam near Sekiu, WA. It was retired in 1964, at which time it was the last active steam locomotive on the Clallam line.
Sold to Peter J.
Replinger and Byron Cole, it went into storage in Sekiu. It was moved to Shelton, WA, in 1973 and then, in 2005, to
#8 was one of two identical 2-6-6-2T Mallets bought by Bloedel Donovan in 1924. The second, #9, was scrapped in 1959.
An oil burner, #8 weighs 212,500 lbs, 178,000 lbs
on its two sets of 44” drivers. Each driver wheelbase is 8’, with an engine wheelbase of
23’ 8”. The locomotive has 17” x 24” high pressure cylinders and 26” x 24” low pressure. With a 26.2 sq ft grate, 128 sq ft firebox, total heating surface of 2,012 sq ft, including 358 sq ft superheating, it operated at a boiler pressure of 200 psi delivering 37,545 lbs tractive effort.
A 45 ton diesel-electric switcher built by the Vulcan Locomotive Works in Wilkes Barre, PA, in 1942, this unit started work at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, WA, as #65-00205. It later became #9.
This is one of the few Vulcan built engines that survives in operating condition. It is the only backup power should #15 encounter problems, although #9 has apparently had several problems of its own. These include a faulty air compressor, as well as a traction motor which needs rebuilding or replacing to prevent unbalanced wear and subsequent damage to the remaining motors.