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Southern Appalachia Railway Museum Charter on Chehalis-Centralia Railroad ~ June 7th, 2006

by Elizabeth Guenzler

This was the second of three photo charters sponsored by the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum and organized by Dr. Barton (Bart) Jennings, part of the six seminal events in my railway hobby. After the previous day's trip on the Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad, I knew I was going to have an excellent time. The day dawned bright and sunny, a perfect late spring day in Washington. This time, Bob accompanied me as he was able to get the day off work. We departed Lynnwood at 09:45 and drove south to Chehalis.

A Brief History

The Chehalis Western purchased trackage from the Milwaukee Road from Chehalis to Raymond in 1936 and operated it as non-common carrier, Chehalis Western Railroad. The line bought was 18 miles from Chehalis to Dryad. This line was not needed any more by the Milwaukee Road as it operated over a nearby Northern Pacific branch line. The Chehalis Western used only the first nine miles of this track from Chehalis to Ruth. A new line was built south from Ruth to Camp McDonald to where timber was ready to be cut. The logs would be taken from Camp McDonald to a log dump at South Bay near Olympia. In late 1975, the line was cut back to Curtis where a log reload was built. This truncated railroad was reorganized into the Curtis, Millburn and Eastern on December 1st, 1975. The logs were now taken from Curtis to Chehalis where they were handed over to the Milwaukee Road. When the Milwaukee Road abandoned all of its trackage west of Miles City, Montana, the Curtis, Millburn & Eastern Railroad was absorbed into a new Chehalis Western. The former Milwaukee Road route to South Bay was taken over by the new Chehalis Western. The Chehalis-Centralia Railroad Association was formed in 1986 as a non-profit corporation. The founders were a group of local citizens whose goal was to restore a 1916 logging locomotive that had been placed in a Chehalis park thirty years earlier. Early the following year, the restoration was begun and over the next two years, several railroad cars were acquired. With restoration completed, scheduled operations began in the summer 1989 over a section of former Milwaukee Road track in the Chehalis-Centralia area. The Chehalis Western then shut down in 1992. The entire line was sold to the City of Tacoma in 1995 and renamed the Tacoma Eastern Railroad. It lasted just three years when in 1998 the railroad was taken over by Tacoma Rail.

The ticket and information for today's trip. We checked in with Bart's wife Sarah first then our cameras became rather busy as this was our first time at the Chehalis-Centrail Railroad.

Former Puget Sound Naval Shipyard 44 tonner 9, which serves as the backup locomotive to the steam engine.

Union Pacific caboose 25479.

The railway's crane.

Milwaukee Road boxcar 33283.

A unidentified Union Pacific caboose on the property.

Cowlitz, Chehalis and Cascade Railway 2-8-2 15, the steam engine that would pull our train today.

Our first runby was very soon after leaving the station, at the first grade crossing.

Everyone getting into position for the next runby.

The second runby at MP 0.5 - the bridge over the Newaukum River.

Cowlitz, Chehalis and Cascade 2-8-2 15 on the bridge over the Newaukum River. We continued on to MP 3.9.

The third runby of the afternoon, in Gordon Young's field. Note the long grass. Back on board, the next stop was at MP 5.0, which Chris aptly termed 'the lily pad runby', a name that has stuck to this day.

Two fantastic runbys at MP 5.0 performed by Cowlitz, Chehalis and Cascade 2-8-2 15 on this glorious summer's day. Everyone reboarded the train for the ride to Milburn.

The reverse move at Milburn, MP 7.2.

The runby at Milburn.

The south fork of the Chehalis River as seen from the open car, which is where I spent most of the trip.

The Chehalis River as seen from the train.

We crossed the 1,083 foot wooden trestle bridge nearing MP 9.7, the end of the journey before the return ride.

The meet of the South Fork and the main Chehalis River. We then reversed to the west end of the South Fork of the Chehalis River trestle where we all detrained for the final runby of the day.

Bob's viewpoint on the runby.

The last runby of the day from my vantage point.

At Ruth, the engine ran around the train to be on the lead returning.

The Ruth station sign, the end of the line for our train ride today.

Cutting overhanging branches as we head back to Chehalis.

View in front of the train.

Rounding a curve on the return trip. We arrived at Chehalis at 15:55 and after saying our goodbyes, Bob and I started the drive back to Lynnwood but stopped in Olympia for dinner.

It had been an absolutely fantastic afternoon aboard the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad and the runbys were excellent. I was really looking forward to my first trip on the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad the next day, but that is the subject of another travelogue.