Submitted by Chehalis Centralia Railroad & Museum
The 1916 Baldwin locomotive sits patiently in the roundhouse of the Chehalis Centralia Railroad receiving repairs to the firebox. The popular and well-loved logging locomotive is known as the #15. Following routine inspections, it was removed from service in March of 2019. Over the course of a few weeks of testing, measuring and additional evaluations, it was determined there was a need for extensive repairs to the firebox of the 103-year-old engine. Professional locomotive mechanics have been hired to complete the needed repairs. Thankfully, a local steam engine expert was available to do the repairs and began the laborious job in May 2019. Large portions of the firebox were removed, new walls and at this time welding will commence next week.
The operation of repairs is a costly undertaking. A recent memorial gift was received by the organization, which has funded the repair work to this point. While the materials are not inexpensive, by far, the major cost is labor and the specialized metal forming skills needed to fabricate and bend large sheets of steel. The estimated cost is $150,000. The organization has set up several opportunities for fundraising. A Facebook page is dedicated to the work, as is a sponsorship page on the website. The Chehalis Centralia organization continues to seek donations as well as volunteers to help with events and maintenance of the grounds, facilities and operations. Anyone interested in joining this unique and exciting venture, please email info@SteamTrainRide.com.
While the #15 is out of service, the Chehalis Centralia Railroad’s diesel #6 has pulled the scenic tourist train during this year’s excursions. Over 8,000 passengers have taken trips along the Chehalis River Valley this season. With the Holiday season ahead, another 4,000 passengers are expected to celebrate on The Polar Express™ and Santa Holiday Trains. Passengers have spent nearly $218,100 at the Railroad location. Data shows 18% are from Lewis County while 82% are from outside of Lewis County. In addition, it is reported that 91% are from the state of Washington and 9% are from outside of the State. Less than 1% from outside of the United States. The total estimated positive economic impact to the Chehalis/Centralia and thus Lewis County area is about $925,661 per year. This generates about $75,904 in annual local and state tax revenue. This information is based on statewide averages and is provided by the Washington State Travel and Tourism Reports by Dean Runyan and Associates.