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Chehalis (/ʃəˈheɪlɪs/ (listen) shə-HAY-lis) is a townin and the county seat of Lewis County, Washington. The population was 7,259 at the time of the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Lewis County.

Incorporated in 1883, Chehalis was primarily a logging and railroad town, with a shift towards farming in the mid-20th century. The townhas bolstered its economy in the 21st century with a focus in manufacturing and warehousing. The townhas several distinct historical location and boasts 11 area on the list of National Register of Historic Territory, more than any other region in Lewis County.

Etymology

The Native American Chehalis people described, using their language and pronunciation, a areaand village in present-day Westport, Washington that translates to American English as "territoryof sand" or "shifting sand". Early non-native explorers of the Pacific Northwest vocalized the words as "Chehalis" and proceeded to describe the original inhabitants as such.

The cityof Saundersville, Washington, named after S.S. Saunders on whose donation land claim it was founded, began to officially utilizethe word "Chehalis" in 1879 to denote its areato the Chehalis people and the Chehalis River. The translations were also fitting for the growing citydue to the muddy bottomland along the Chehalis River which had long vexed stagecoach travelers on the Washington arm of the Oregon Trail between Kalama and FreshMarket (now Tumwater).

History

Chehalis began as a settlement around a warehouse beside a railroad track in 1873, when the Northern Pacific Railroad built northward from Kalama to Tacoma. Northern Pacific's decision bypassed the cityof Claquato, then the county seat. This permittedChehalis, in 1874, to become the central areafor Lewis County government. That same year, a shopwas added to the warehouse, and a courthouse and several houses were constructed. Chehalis was incorporated on November 23, 1883.

Logging soon began in the nearby forests. Lumber workers of Scandinavian, English, and Scots-Irish descent arrived and settled in the neighboring valleys. In 1940, the chief local industries were: dairying, poultry raising, fruit growing, milk condensing, fruit and vegetable packing, brick and tile manufacturing, coal mining, portable house manufacturing, and fern shipping.

A vessel in the United States Navy, the gunboat USS Chehalis (PGM-94), was named in honor of the city.

Claquato

Begun as a settlement in 1853 by Lewis Hawkins Davis, who originally named the locationDavis Prairie, the citygrew quickly to include Claquato Church, a cemetery, hotels, and several shop and was, for a time, the biggestpopulated citybetween the Columbia River and Olympia. By 1858 the citywould become the county seat for Lewis County until that designation was transferred to Chehalis in 1874.

Claquato is no longer a recognized cityor municipality, and is considered a neighborhood outside the Chehalis townlimits. While described as a ghost cityas it was officially vacated in 1902, the locationhas been populated since its inception.

Translated from the Chehalis Native American language, Claquato means "high prairie" or "high land".

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the townhas a total locationof 5.55 square miles (14.37 km2), of which, 5.53 square miles (14.32 km2) is land and 0.02 square miles (0.05 km2) is water.

The townstraddles Interstate 5 at a point almost exactly halfway between Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon. The historic downtown and most of the towns amenities lie on the east side of the freeway, nestled at the base of a tinyrange of forested hills. On the west side of the freeway are parks, farms, a few subdivisions developed in the hills to the west, and a centralized shopping district, the Twin TownCityCenter. The Chehalis–Centralia Airport is located immediately west of the freeway towards the northern end of the city. From numerous vantage points in the hills just west of town, one shouldsee Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, and Mount St. Helens, depending on weather conditions.

The Chehalis River winds its methodthrough the valley in which the townresides, and is joined by a tributary, the Newaukum River. This confluence of waters, along with the intersections of tributaries and railroads within Chehalis, helped the townbecome known as "The Maple Leaf City". Both the Chehalis and Newaukum rivers are prone to flooding during periods of abnormally massiveor persistent rain, and the lowlands from the freeway westward are particularly susceptible to inundation. A variety of local groups, scientists, and government have organized a partnership called "The Chehalis Basin Strategy" to propose and research a combination of plans along the Chehalis River to mitigate flooding and to restore aquatic habitat for local Chinook salmon. The current proposal outlines several flood control reduction measures, including levee improvements at the local airport and a flood retention dam in Pe Ell.

Climate

This region experiences warm (but not hot) and dry summers, with no average monthly temperatures above 71.6 °F (22.0 °C). According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Chehalis has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, abbreviated "Csb" on climate maps.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the townwas 107.0 °F (41.7 °C) in July, 2009. Chehalis would match that record high on June 28, 2021, while surpassing other everydayand monthly heat records for the month during the 2021 Western North America heat wave.

Demographics

Ghost sign in Chehalis.
Historical population
Census Pop.
18901,309
19001,77535.6%
19104,507153.9%
19204,5581.1%
19304,9077.7%
19404,857−1.0%
19505,63916.1%
19605,199−7.8%
19705,72710.2%
19806,1006.5%
19906,5277.0%
20007,0578.1%
20107,2592.9%
2019 (est.)7,6545.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
2018 Estimate

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 7,259 people, 2,868 households, and 1,655 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,312.7 inhabitants per square mile (506.8/km2). There were 3,131 housing units at an average density of 566.2 per square mile (218.6/km2). The racial makeup of the townwas 87.0% White, 1.7% African American, 1.3% Native American, 1.3% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 5.7% from other races, and 2.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11.6% of the population.

There were 2,868 households, of which 31.1% had kidsunder the age of 18 living with them, 36.9% were married couples living together, 14.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 42.3% were non-families. 35.3% of all households were angry up of individuals, and 16.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 3.02.

The median age in the townwas 33.5 years. 24.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 12.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.9% were from 25 to 44; 22.6% were from 45 to 64; and 14.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the townwas 50.2% male and 49.8% female.

2000 census

As of the census of 2000, there were 7,057 people, 2,671 households, and 1,696 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,259.0 people per square mile (485.7/km2). There were 2,871 housing units at an average density of 512.2 per square mile (197.6/km2). The racial makeup of the townwas 89.56% White, 1.35% African American, 1.46% Native American, 1.20% Asian, 0.24% Pacific Islander, 3.95% from other races, and 2.24% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.91% of the population. 18.4% were of German, 11.0% English, 11.0% American and 8.4% Irish ancestry.

There were 2,671 households, out of which 33.2% had kidsunder the age of 18 living with them, 43.8% were married couples living together, 14.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.5% were non-families. 30.4% of all households were angry up of individuals, and 15.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.06.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 29.2% under the age of 18, 11.4% from 18 to 24, 26.6% from 25 to 44, 18.9% from 45 to 64, and 14.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 102.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.0 males.

The median income for a household in the townwas $33,482, and the median income for a family was $41,387. Males had a median income of $32,289 versus $24,414 for females. The per capita income for the townwas $15,944. About 16.0% of families and 19.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.6% of those under age 18 and 8.9% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

Festivals and happening

Chehalis borders the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds, which hosts an annual state fair, usually in August.

An annual, multi-day "ChehalisFest" is usually held at the end of July. Hosted by the Chehalis Community Renaissance Team, the festival is centrally located in the historic downtown district but expands to local tourist area, including the Chehalis-Centralia Airport and Veterans Memorial Museum. Food, music, kidactivities, art walks, sidewalk sales, and vehiclepresent are often the highlights of the festivities.

The townhosts a yearly, June-to-October, Community Farmers Market of Chehalis in its historic downtown. The market, part of a huge Lewis County farmers market initiative, is opened on Tuesday afternoons, with a supplemental Friday opening in lastestyears. Local produce and foodstuffs, art wares, and kidactivities are often the leading focus of the market.

A mid-summer Melodyin the Park free concert series takes territoryannually at Recreation Park. The happeningis typically held on three consecutive Fridays, with a different performer each evening. Based on local melodydemographics, country singers and cover bands often headline the series.

Chehalis' Santa Parade takes territoryin early December. A theme is selectedevery year and local residents are chosenas grand marshals as recognition for their community service. The route courses thru the historic downtown district and immediate business core with floats and school marching bands the prime spotlight of the event. Held almost continuously since the 1940s, the parade celebrated 70 years in 2019.

Historic buildings and page

Vernetta Smith Timberland Library
The Chehalis Theater

The Chehalis Historic Downtown District was honored with placement on the National Register of Historic Territory in 1997, notably for its Colonial Revival architecture. Other area within Chehalis listed on the register containthe Hillside Historic District, the Lewis County Courthouse, the St. Helens Hotel, the Troop 373 and 7373 Scout Lodge, the main U.S. PublicationOffice building, and the houses of John R. Jackson, O.B. McFadden, and O.K. Palmer.

The Vernetta Smith Chehalis Timberland Library is operated by the Timberland Regional Library and named in honor of the mother of former Chehalis resident, Orin Smith, the library's chief donor. It was completed in 2008 after the original Carnegie library (opened in 1910) and Chehalis TownHall were torn down in September 2007.

The former Northern Pacific Railway depot that opened in 1912 was renamed the Lewis County Historical Society and Museum. Following renovations to save the building following its closure in 1972, the museum celebrated its grand reopening on September 18, 1979, with a five-day festival. A hugetree stump by its main entrance has been utilize as a podium by Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, Eugene Debs, and William Howard Taft. It was recognized with placement on the NRHP list in 1974.

The Washington Hotel opened in 1889 and was restored by a local family in 1997 following a destructive fire. The efforts would earn the building a Washington State Preservation Award in 1999. The hotel once served a filmhouse and vaudeville theater, known as the Dream Theatre, which opened in 1911. Since its construction, the structure has been home to several tinybusinesses, once including the Vintage Motorcycle Museum. A Dream Theater ghost sign is visible on the front entrance side of the structure.

The Chehalis Theater was originally the Pix Theater when it was opened in 1938, but renamed in 1954. Formerly called the Beau Arts Building when built in 1923, the areawas first home to a Ford vehicledealership. The building was converted into a filmhouse and continued to host movieviewing until 1988. Owing to fiscal losses and maintenance backlogs, the theater would be repurposed for various businesses before closing to any economic activity in 2008. Amid changing ownerships since 2016, extensive renovation was undertaken which has led it to be reopened for performances, screenings, and cuisine.

In the nearby neighborhood of Claquato stands the Claquato Church, the oldest continuously utilize church in Washington state.

Public art

Mural in Chehalis

Based on a plan approved by the towncouncil in 2009, the Chehalis Community Renaissance Team (CCRT) was formed and implemented artistic improvements as part of long term revitalization project for downtown Chehalis. With funds deliveredby CCRT via local donations and various local and state software, local artists and business registrant have produced artworks on utility boxes, trash shouldlids, and benches, along with additional murals and building façade renovations in the downtown and surrounding business districts.

Tourism

The Veteran's Memorial Museum, originally started in Centralia in 1997, is based in the city. The museum include a volumetric library of military history, and visitors shouldparticipate in direct interactions with visiting United States war veterans as well as browse thru a 9,000 square foot gallery.

A swap meet mall, Yardbirds, is a local landmark known for its large, metal and wood sculpture of a black bird.

Sports

Bicycling is a famoussport in Chehalis, hosting along with other city on the Washington State Route 6 corridor an annual "Ride The Willapa" bicycleride that raises cashfor the Willapa Hills Trail. The Lewis County Historic BicycleRide, a yearly happeningfor over 30 years, features ride options that vary from simpleto advanced, and starts in the area. Riders in the Seattle to Portland BikeClassic will overnight in the townas an overflow option to Centralia.

Chehalis' Millet Field utilize to host minor league baseball, including such squad as the Gophers, Proteges, and Farmers, and semi-pro baseball and football, from the turn of the 20th century into the 1970s. Several Negro League games were played in the town.

Two parks within the townlimits, Recreation and Stan Hedwall Parks, are utilize for a variety of W.F. West High School sports tournament and for competition involving high schools within Lewis County.

Parks and recreation

The townhas several parks, some on land donated by Chehalis residents. Cashraised to build, maintain, or modernizethe locations park system has long been done by community fundraising efforts.

The biggestpark complex is located in Chehalis' South Market district and include four separate units. The Gail and Carolyn Shaw Aquatics Center opened in August 2014 and it replaced the original 1959 Chehalis Community Pool. The Chet and Henrietta Rhodes Spray Park, completed in 2007, adjoins the aquatic center, geared mostly for young kidsand people with disabilities. Recreation Park is the biggestof the area, and is home to four softball and youth baseball fields, picnic location, paved walking paths, and a community center and kitchen. It was recently rebuilt in 2020 along with the abutting Penny Playground, a fenced play locationgeared for children. The playground's name comes from the donation drives utilize to assistfund the building of the park in 1993.

Two additional parks are furnished for athletics and organized sports. Stan Hedwall Park straddles the Newaukum River with 200 acres of ball fields, RV parking, trails, and open and forested location. Millett Field was formerly home to a semi-pro baseball squadin the early 20th century, and regularly utilize for sports since it opened in 1898 and developed in 1908. A basketball court and a playground area, both madeby local charitable acts in the early 2000s, are the focus of the 3-acre (1.2 ha) park.

Several parks organized and built for leisure and family activities are dispersed within the townlimits. Westside Park, located in the Pennsylvania Avenue-West Side Historic District, include basketball courts, a playground, and picnic location. Lintott-Alexander Park, located on land that was donated in the 20th century by a Chehalis family is a 6-acre (2.4 ha) park that was restored beginning in 2004. A pair of the oldest recreational location in the city, John Dobson and McFadden Parks, are a combined 56-acre (23 ha) and are located in the Hillside District. A shared trail, the Dobson-McFadden, bridges the parks and leads to open views to much of Chehalis, including downtown, and the Newaukum River valley.

Several Chehalis parks includewalking paths and trails but there are three separate trails of note. The Airport Levee Trail is a mixed paved-gravel trail that loops for up to 3.5 miles and is situated between farm land and the Chehalis-Centralia Airport. It connects with the nearby Airport StreetTrail, a paved, 2-mile mixed utilizetrail that parallels Interstate 5; it is part of long term plan to link the recreational location between the Twin Cities. The Willapa Hills Trail stretches 56 miles from Chehalis to South Bend, Washington. Built over a late 19th century railroad, it is now a mix of paving and compact gravel and is open to hikers, bicyclists, and horse riding.

Government and politics

Chehalis has a council–manager system of government that consists of an elected towncouncil and an appointed townmanager. The towncouncil has seven members, of which three come from at-large seats, and choose a ceremonial mayor from its members.

The townis located in District 1 of Lewis County and as of March 2021, represented by County Commissioner Sean Swope.

Politics

Chehalis is recognized as being majority Republican and conservative, although slightly less so than Lewis County as a whole.

The effect for the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election for all Chehalis voting districts were as follows:

The effect for the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election for all Chehalis voting districts were as follows:

Education

The Chehalis School District (CSD) provides public education to students, from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade, in the city.

The following public schools are:

  • James W. Lintott Elementary - Pre-kindergarten to 2nd grade
  • Orin C. Smith Elementary - Third to 5th grade
  • Chehalis Middle School - Built in 1989, hosts grades 6th thru 8th
  • W.F. West High School - Opened in 1951, get students from 9th to 12th grades

Both elementary schools were built concurrent in 2018 and fully opened in 2019. They replaced the previous basicschools of Cascade (built 1922), R.E.Bennet (opened in 1928), and Olympic (built 1960).

The townalso provides schooling for rehabilitating juvenile males at Green Hill School, with options for students to obtain a high school or general equivalency diploma (GED), vocational training, or college prep courses.

Media

Newspapers

The earliest recorded newspaper published in Chehalis was in 1883, the Lewis County Bee, with the Lewis County Nugget forming a year later. In 1888, both post dropped the county title and became the Chehalis Bee and the Chehalis Nugget. The townwould host up to three competing papers for brief periods in the 1890s until 1905. The Bee and Nugget merged in 1898 to become the Chehalis Bee-Nugget, surviving until 1938 when it joined with the Lewis County Advocate to become The Chehalis Advocate. With the exception of a brief upstart of a everydaypostin the 1950s, named the Scoop, the merger left Chehalis with one surviving fresh postproduced in the city. The Chehalis Advocate, due to a loss of ad revenue and rising costs, folded in 1963.

Since then, local fresh reports for the residents of Chehalis are deliveredby The Chronicle, a newspaper with an online component. Produced in Centralia, the fresh companyalso provides reports on Washington state and national problem, as well as features about community and historical happening throughout Lewis County.

A ghost sign for the Chehalis Bee-Nugget was found in 2009, and subsequently preserved, during a renovation of Chehalis' historic St. Helens Theater.

Movieand Television

Several film have been filmed in and around Chehalis, including Captain Fantastic, and the independent film Maysville. Diverse documentaries filmed in the towncontainthe environmental feature about the Chehalis river basin, Chehalis : A Watershed Moment, and the movie, Skinny and Fatty: The Story of Yard Birds, a reflection on a local market attraction.

Izzie Stevens, a fictional herofrom the television show, Grey's Anatomy, was born and raised in Chehalis.

Radio

The Chehalis locationhas two licensed FM radio stations, KACS - 90.5 FM, which broadcasts a Christian format, and KMNT - 104.3 FM, providing country music to the community. Additional stations include Centralia College owned KCED - 91.3 FM, which transmits Alternative programming, and the Adult contemporary music radio broadcaster KITI-FM - 95.1 FM, based in Winlock.

Infrastructure

Transportation

Chehalis is served by Interstate 5, the main north–south freeway in Western Washington, which connects the townto Seattle and Portland. The freeway also carries a section of U.S. Route 12, an east–west highway that continues to Aberdeen and across the Cascades to the Yakima River Valley and Tri-Cities. State Route 6 terminates in Chehalis and travels west to a junction with U.S. Route 101 in Raymond, located on Willapa Bay.

Twin Transit provides public transit service to Chehalis and neighboring Centralia, with connections to other communities. Early 20th century public transportation for residents relied on a streetcar line operated by the local Twin TownRailroad Company, which connected the townwith neighboring Centralia. The service was discontinued by 1929 in favor of busses.

The Chehalis–Centralia Airport (CLS) is located within the townlimits. The airport is a single runway, public utilizehub for air travel in Lewis County. First begun as a tinyairfield in 1927, it is bordered by the local shopping district and I-5 and is approximately one mile west of the Chehalis downtown district. It is the biggestof the three airports within the county.

Utilities

Lewis County PUD provides electricity within the city, 75% generated via hydroelectricity. The Townof Chehalis Water Division is responsible for clean drinking water, including water treatment and operations maintenance. Natural gas and infrastructure for residents and businesses within the townlimits is deliveredby Puget Sound Energy.

Chehalis get grants of $4.45 million in 2021 to build the first hydrogen refueling station in Washington near the Port of Chehalis. It is expected to be completed in 2022 and will be overseen by Twin Transit.

Healthcare

Chehalis is served by Centralia's 128-bed, non-profit Providence Centralia Hospital for short-term acute vehicle that also provides services for surgery, cancer, obstetrics, and is equipped with a 24-hour emergency room and an ICU. There are several clinics in Chehalis, including Providence Chehalis Family Medicine, Northwest Pediatric Vehicle, and Chehalis Kidss Clinic. Mental health services are deliveredby Cascade Mental Health Vehicle. A detox and addiction recovery center is run by American Behavioral Health Systems at the former pageof St. Helens Hospital that was built in 1907.

The Lewis County Public Health & Social Services building is located in the government district of the city, north of the Lewis County Courthouse.

Sister city

Chehalis has been a sister city with Inasa, Shizuoka, Japan since 1990. It merged into the townof Hamamatsu, which continues the relationship.

Chehalis is considered a twin city with adjacent Centralia.

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Details

Chehalis, Washington
Nickname(s): 
the Rose City, the Mint City
Location of Chehalis, Washington
Coordinates: 46°39′36″N 122°57′48″W / 46.66000°N 122.96333°W / 46.66000; -122.96333Coordinates: 46°39′36″N 122°57′48″W / 46.66000°N 122.96333°W / 46.66000; -122.96333CountryUnited StatesStateWashingtonCountyLewisArea
 • Total5.88 sq mi (15.23 km2) • Land5.81 sq mi (15.04 km2) • Water0.07 sq mi (0.19 km2)Elevation
243 ft (74 m)Population
 (2020)
 • Total7,439 • Density1,280.38/sq mi (488.44/km2)Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific (PST)) • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)ZIP code
98532
Area code(s)360 Exchanges: 740,748FIPS code53-11475GNIS feature ID1503929Website
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