Chehalis, Washington

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Chehalis, Washington
Lewis County Historic Courthouse.jpg
the Rose City
Location of Chehalis, Washington
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; -122.96333
CountryUnited States
 • Total5.88 sq mi (15.23 km2)
 • Land5.81 sq mi (15.04 km2)
 • Water0.07 sq mi (0.19 km2)
243 ft (74 m)
 • Total7,259
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,318.06/sq mi (508.88/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)360 Exchanges: 740,748
FIPS code53-11475
GNIS feature ID1503929[4]

Chehalis (/ʃəˈhlɪs/ (About this soundlisten) shə-HAY-lis) is a city in 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.[5]


The Native American Chehalis people described, using their language and pronunciation, a location and village in present-day Westport, Washington that translates to American English as "place of sand" or "shifting sand".[6] Early non-native explorers of the Pacific Northwest vocalized the words as "Chehalis" and proceeded to describe the original inhabitants as such.

In 1879, the town of Saundersville, Washington, named after S.S. Saunders on whose donation land claim it was founded, began to officially use the word "Chehalis" to denote its location to the Chehalis people and the Chehalis River. The translations were also fitting for the growing town due 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 New Market (now Tumwater).[7]


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, and ignored Claquato, then the county seat three miles to the west.[8] After the Northern Pacific bypassed Claquato, the county seat was moved to Chehalis, leaving Claquato little more than a historical landmark. By 1874, a store was added to the warehouse, and a courthouse and several houses were constructed.[9] Chehalis was incorporated on November 23, 1883.[7]

Logging soon began in the nearby forests. Lumber workers of Scandinavian, English, and Scots-Irish descent arrived and settled in the neighboring valleys.[10] 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.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 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.[11]

The city straddles Interstate 5 at a point almost exactly halfway between Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon. The historic downtown and most of the city's amenities lie on the east side of the freeway, nestled at the base of a small range 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 City Town Center.[12] The Chehalis–Centralia Airport (CLS) 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 can see Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, and Mount St. Helens, depending on weather conditions. Chehalis is a frequented stop by bicyclists while on the annual Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic.

The Chehalis River winds its way through the valley in which the city resides, 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 city become known as "The Maple Leaf City".[13] Both the Chehalis and Newaukum rivers are prone to flooding during periods of abnormally heavy or 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.[14] The current proposal outlines several flood control reduction measures, including levee improvements at the local airport and a flood retention dam in Pe Ell.[15]


This region experiences warm (but not hot) and dry summers, with no average monthly temperatures above 71.6 °F. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Chehalis has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, abbreviated "Csb" on climate maps.[16]


Ghost sign in Chehalis.
Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)7,654[3]5.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[17]
2018 Estimate[18]

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[2] 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 city was 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 children under 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 made 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 city was 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 city was 50.2% male and 49.8% female.

2000 census[edit]

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 city was 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 children under 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 made 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 city was $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 city was $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.


Chehalis has a council–manager system of government that consists of an elected city council and an appointed city manager. The city council has seven members, of which three come from at-large seats, and selects a ceremonial mayor from its members.[19][20]

The city is located in District 1 of Lewis County and as of March, 2021, represented by County Commissioner Sean Swope.[21]


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

The results for the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election for all Chehalis voting districts were as follows:[22]

The results for the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election for all Chehalis voting districts were as follows:[23]

Sister city[edit]

Chehalis is a sister city with Inasa, Shizuoka in Japan, now merged into the city of Hamamatsu, which continues the relationship.[24]

Chehalis is considered a twin city with adjacent Centralia.[25]

Historic buildings and sites[edit]

Vernetta Smith Timberland Library
The Chehalis Theater
  • Vernetta Smith Chehalis Timberland Library: Operated by the Timberland Regional Library and named in honor of the mother of former Chehalis resident, Orin Smith, the new library's chief donor. It was completed in 2008 after the original Carnegie library (opened in 1910) and Chehalis City Hall was torn down in September 2007.[26][27]
  • Lewis County Historical Museum: Located in a former Northern Pacific Railway depot that opened in 1912. The museum opened on September 18, 1979, following renovations to save the building following its closure in 1972.[28]
  • Chehalis Theater: Opened in December 7, 1938, as the Pix Theater in a former car dealership that had been built in 1923. It was regularly used until the 1980s, later being reused for various businesses before closing in 2008.[29][30] Major restoration began in 2016 and the theater reopened for performances and screenings with its original Art Deco lighting.[31]
  • Claquato Church: The oldest continuously used church in Washington state.
  • Washington Hotel: Originally a vaudeville and movie house that opened in 1889 as the Dream Theatre and later expanded in 1911 to house small businesses, including the Vintage Motorcycle Museum. The hotel building was damaged in a 1997 fire and restored by a local family, earning a Washington State Preservation Award in 1999. Ghost signs are visible on the north side of the structure.[32][33]

Parks and recreation[edit]

  • Gail and Carolyn Shaw Aquatics Center: Opened in August 2014, it replaced the original 1959 Chehalis Community Pool. The center's $2.7 million cost was paid through funds raised by local businesses and citizens. The aquatics center has slides, water toys, a beach-entry-style pool, new fencing, concrete walkways and benches.[34][35] The Chet and Henrietta Rhodes Spray Park, completed in 2007, adjoins the aquatic center, geared mostly for "young children’s outdoor water play".[36]
  • Recreation Park and Penny Playground: A pair of parks in the South Market district, home to a complex of softball and youth baseball fields, picnic areas, paved walking paths, and a community center and rentable kitchen.[37][38]
  • Stan Hedwall Park: A park along the Newaukum River with 200 acres of ball fields, RV parking, trails, and open and forested areas. It was acquired by the city government in January 2014.[39]
  • Westside Park: Located in the Pennsylvania Avenue-West Side Historic District and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the small park contains basketball courts, a playground, and picnic areas.[40]
  • Lintott-Alexander Park: Partially open on land donated in the 20th century by a Chehalis family. It once housed bath houses and a wading pool before it closed in 1988; the 6-acre (2.4 ha) park was restored beginning in 2004 and now has playgrounds, sport courts, picnic areas, and a perimeter walking path.[41][42]
  • John Dobson and McFadden Parks: A 56-acre (23 ha) pair of parks in the Hillside District that opened in 1905 (Dobson) and 1912 (McFadden). 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.[41]
  • Millett Field: Formerly home to a semi-pro baseball team in the early 20th century, and regularly used for sports since it opened in 1898 and developed in 1908.[43] A basketball court and a playground area, both created by local charitable acts in the early 2000s, are also located in the 3-acre (1.2 ha) park.[44]

Notable trails not located within a Chehalis park include:

  • Airport Levee Trail: Mixed paved-gravel trail that loops for up to 3.5 miles, it is situated between farm land and the Chehalis-Centralia Airport.[45]
  • Airport Road Trail: Paved, 2 mile biking trail that parallels Interstate 5 on the west, it is part of a long-term plan to link the Twin Cities under a "TransAlta Trail" system.[46]
  • Willapa Hills Trail: At 56 miles, this trail stretches 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. A Lewis County non-profit hosts an annual, two-day "Ride the Willapa" bike event in early summer to raise funds to maintain and complete the trail. The trail is under the maintenance auspices of the Washington State Park System.[47][48]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places in Washington: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019". United States Census Bureau. May 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  4. ^ "Chehalis". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  5. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  6. ^ "Chehalis Tribe". Chehalis Tribe. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Chehalis Thumbnail History". Retrieved March 29, 2020.
  8. ^ "An Inventory of Historic Resources in the City of Chehalis, Washington". August 1987: 3–8. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ "History of Chehalis, Washington" (PDF). City of Chehalis. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  10. ^ "The City of Chehalis, County Seat of Lewis County, State of Washington". Chehalis Bee-Nugget. 1909. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on January 12, 2012. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  12. ^ "Twin City Town Center". City of Chehalis. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  13. ^ "The Evergreen State Souvenir by J.O. Hestwood, Chicago: W.B. Conkey Co., 1893, p.38".
  14. ^ "Chehalis : A Watershed Moment". Chehalis River Alliance. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  15. ^ "Chehalis Basin Strategy". Chehalis Basin Strategy. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  16. ^ "Chehalis, Washington: Köppen Climate Classification". Weatherbase.
  17. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved June 7, 2013.
  18. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  19. ^ Perednia, Graham (May 23, 2017). "Four Candidates Seeking Three Chehalis Council Seats". The Chronicle. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  20. ^ "Chehalis Municipal Code Chapter 2.08: City Council". City of Chehalis. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  21. ^ "Lewis County District 1". Lewis County. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  22. ^ "Lewis County 2020 Election". Results.Vote.WA. Results.Vote.WA. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  23. ^ "Lewis County Auditor". Lewis County Auditor. Retrieved April 5, 2020.
  24. ^ "Outline of Hamamatsu – Sister Cities". Hamamatsu City. Archived from the original on 2016-01-01. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  25. ^ Jones, Pat (October 21, 2006). "Clang, clang, clang go the streetcars". The Daily Chronicle. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  26. ^ "Vernetta Smith Chehalis Timberland Library". City of Chehalis. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  27. ^ "Chehalis Timberland Library". Timberland Regional Library. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  28. ^ "About". Lewis County Historical Museum. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  29. ^ "Chehalis Walking Tour" (PDF). City of Chehalis. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
  30. ^ "The Chehalis Theatre: A Historical Building Lives On". LewisTalk. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  31. ^ "Chehalis Theater". The Chehalis Theater. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
  32. ^ "Washington Hotel". City of Chehalis. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
  33. ^ Peredina, Graham (December 1, 2017). "128-Year-Old Hotel Washington". The Daily Chronicle. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  34. ^ "Gail and Carolyn Shaw Aquatic Center". City of Chehalis. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  35. ^ "Gail and Carolyn Shaw Aquatic Center". Chehalis Foundation. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  36. ^ "Chet and Henrietta Rhodes Spray Park". City of Chehalis. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  37. ^ "Recreation Park". The Daily Chronicle. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  38. ^ "Bearcats Softball". The Olympian. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  39. ^ "Stan Hedwall Park". Experience Chehalis. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
  40. ^ "Westside Park". Discover Lewis County. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
  41. ^ a b "Parks Gone Wild". The Daily Chronicle. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
  42. ^ "Lintott-Alexander Park". Chehalis Foundation. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
  43. ^ "Millett Field". City of Chehalis. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
  44. ^ "Millett Field Crown Jewel". The Daily Chronicle. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
  45. ^ "Airport Levee Trail". Lewis County Trails. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  46. ^ "Airport Road Trail". Discover Lewis County. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  47. ^ "Willapa Hills Trail". Lewis County Trails. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  48. ^ "Willapa Hills Trail 2". Discover Lewis County. Retrieved March 22, 2020.

External links[edit]