(click to enlarge photos)
On a recent visit to Mt. St. Helens with his family, Jean Sherrard stopped off in both Centralia and Chehalis to photograph their railroad depots. Of course, for these “repeat” purposes Jean carried with him historical photographs of the “twin cities” stations. While in Centralia he was blessed with good “now and then luck.” Picking up and letting go passengers, Amtrak’s Coast Starlight packet was also waiting and posing for him.
Both depots are splendid examples of brick depot architecture and next year both will celebrate their centennials. While making preparations for the birthdays, the Lewis County Historical Society and its museum are fittingly sited. Both have a home in the landmark Chehalis depot.
The Centralia Depot was completed quickly in 1912. Many of the estimated 500 workers were, of course, specialists. The floor was made of terrazzo, the roof tiled, the windows leaded, and hardwood oak was used extensively. Anticipating a booming population the station was also built big. It reaches will over three hundred feet, with five sections separated by breezeways. The restoration took much longer – eight years. It was completed in 2002.
Even before railroads were laid thru them, the Lewis County twins served as halfway destinations between the Columbia River and Puget Sound. Now the railroad line between Portland and Seattle – or with its greatest reach, between Eugene and Vancouver B.C. – is Amtrak’s eighth-busies route, carrying the most passengers of any railroads outside of the Northeastern U.S. or California.
For one dollar the state purchased the station from the Burlington Northern Railroad in 1994 and promptly gave it over to the city of Centralia. The depot is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
This time round, I’ve got a few things to add myself, Paul. Several cribbed from our 2007 book, Washington Then and Now:
First, THE CHEHALIS DEPOT:
Now the Lewis County Historical Museum.
THE CHEHALIS STREET DANCE:
The popular Chautauqua movement began in the east in the 1870s with a mixture of Bible studies and lectures on self-improvement. Here on Market Boulevard in Chehalis the movement has them dancing in the street. The Lewis County Historical Museum figures that this invigorated scene dates from about 1914, and the Chautauqua dances were held at this location until 1918 when the turreted St. Helens Hotel in the background was replaced with the current masonry building. In the right background is the Chehalis City Hall, built in 1912 and still in service, although minus its ornate trim, damaged in the 1949 earthquake that was generally cruel to the region’s cornices. In my repeat, City Hall is barely visible through the trees.
Next, TWO PIONEER SANCTUARIES ON HIGHWAY 6:
Two landmark pioneer churches – at Francis and Claquato – stand above State Highway No. 6 between Chehalis and South Bend. The later (on the right), about three miles west of Chehalis is also distinguished as the oldest standing church in the state. Built in 1858 with a crown of thorns topping its tower the parish lost its parishioners after Chehalis took the county seat from Claquato in the 1870s. Although empty when it was photographed in 1891 it survived for a full restoration in the 1950s. Holy Family Catholic Church in Francis dates from 1892 when the Northern Pacific Railroad was approaching this largely Swiss settlement.
Anything to add, Paul?
Yes, a few subjects Jean, but not the usual horde. Ahh but the above reminds me of what a pleasing time we had building our book “Washington Then and Now,” you traveling the state and me sitting in my basement – for the most – talking with you on the phone.
Here a small back of subjects that are either of Centralia or Chehalis, or they are in the greater neighborhood, like the churches above. I’ll keep the captions brief.
Follow THREE of WINLOCK (“most likely”)