Chehalis volunteers begin work on a spur rail line from Chehalis to the industrial park on March 3, 1957.

  • By Jen Ott
  • Posted 7/01/2008
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 8646

On March 3, 1957, volunteers from the town of Chehalis begin work on a spur line from the main railroad lines to the Chehalis Industrial Park. Over the next two weekends they will prepare the roadbed, build grade crossings, and lay 3,500 feet of track. With this effort they hope to entice Goodyear Tire Company to bring its tread rubber factory to Chehalis. They will be successful in this.

In 1956, after consulting with the Bureau of Economic Development at the University of Washington about their economy, which struggled in the post-war era to replace jobs lost to declining timber harvests, Chehalis business owners formed a joint stock corporation, the Chehalis Industrial Commission. The commission purchased land and sought out industries to locate their factories at the park.

Goodyear Tire Company considered Chehalis Industrial Park for a tread rubber factory. But in order to locate at Chehalis, they required a rail connection. The Chehalis Industrial Commission did not have the capital to fund the railroad spur, so it turned to local business owners who sold ties for four dollars each to raise the money. Additionally, local mills produced the ties and sold them at cost to the commission. Members of the community the laid the track over the course of two weekends.

According to Business Week, Goodyear chose the site because of the town's willingness to make the site fit the company's needs. Their enthusiasm, in addition to its central location along Interstate 5, made the site desirable.  The industrial park is now home to nearly 30 businesses and covers over 700 acres. The Port of Chehalis, which was formed in 1986, operates it.

Sources: "Chehalins Turn Out to Lay Industry Rails," The Daily Chronicle, March 4, 1957; "Chehalis' Spirited Drive for Goodyear Plant Now Taking Aim on Future Industrial Center," The Seattle Times, September 30, 1956, p. 57; Port of Chehalis website, accessed June 3, 2008 (http://www.portofchehalis.com); "Welcome for Industry Varies with Town," Business Week, March 30, 1957, 136, 140.

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