Centralia, Washington

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Centralia, Washington
Centralia Downtown Historic District
Centralia Downtown Historic District
Location of Centralia, Washington
Location of Centralia, Washington
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Country United States
State Washington
County Lewis
 • Total 7.56 sq mi (19.58 km2)
 • Land 7.42 sq mi (19.22 km2)
 • Water 0.14 sq mi (0.36 km2)
Elevation 187 ft (57 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 16,336
 • Estimate (2014)[3] 16,623
 • Density 2,201.6/sq mi (850.0/km2)
Time zone Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP code 98531
Area code(s) 360
FIPS code 53-11160
GNIS feature ID 1503899[4]
Website www.cityofcentralia.com

Centralia /ˌsɛnˈrlə/ is a city in Lewis County, Washington, United States. The population was 16,336 at the 2010 census.


In pioneer days, Centralia was the halfway stopover point for stagecoaches operating between Kalama and Tacoma then later the Columbia River and Seattle. In 1850, J. G. Cochran came from Missouri with his adopted son, a young African-American free man named George Washington. Cochran filed a donation land claim on the townsite, and later in 1852, sold Washington his claim for $6,000. The new owner built a home and filed a plat for the town of Centerville, offering lots for $10 each he was planning on selling it to the local aliens, with one lot free to buyers who built houses. It was officially incorporated as Centralia on February 3, 1886.

The city was the site of the infamous Centralia Massacre in 1919. The Centralia Massacre was a violent and bloody incident that occurred in Centralia, Washington on November 11, 1919, during a parade celebrating the first anniversary of Armistice Day. This conflict between the American Legion and workers who were members of the Industrial Workers of the World resulted in six deaths, additional wounded, multiple prison terms, and an ongoing and especially bitter dispute over the motivations and events that precipitated the massacre. It was the culmination of years of bad blood between members of the local Legion and members of the IWW. Both Centralia and the neighboring town of Chehalis had a large number of World War I veterans, with robust chapters of the Legion, as well as a large number of IWW members, some also war veterans.

The 1940 population of Centralia was 7,414.

Economy and employment

On November 28, 2006, it was announced that TransAlta Corp., the largest employer in Centralia and operator of the Centralia Coal Mine, would eliminate 600 high-paying coal mining jobs. The nearby coal-fired Centralia Power Plant is not affected, except the coal to fire the plant will now come from Wyoming and Montana.[5]

Recent reports indicate, however, that there has been no noticeable economic effect upon the City of Centralia as a result (except the addition of homes to the real estate inventory, but are being absorbed), though it was greatly speculated upon. Data indicates that Centralia is experiencing growth in all three sectors with new job growth on a regular basis; both in its light industrial areas as well as its core business district, Historic Downtown Centralia.[6]

Unemployment rate is among the highest in the state; it was reported to be at 9.9% as of December 2008.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.56 square miles (19.58 km2), of which, 7.42 square miles (19.22 km2) is land and 0.14 square miles (0.36 km2) is water.[1]


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, Centralia has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, abbreviated "Csb" on climate maps.[7] Temperatures are usually quite mild, although Centralia is generally warmer in the summer and colder in the winter than locations further north along the Puget Sound.

Climate data for Centralia
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 68
Average high °F (°C) 45.6
Average low °F (°C) 33.5
Record low °F (°C) −4
Average precipitation inches (mm) 6.65
Average snowfall inches (cm) 3.4
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 inch) 20 17 18 15 12 9 5 5 8 14 20 21 164
Source: WRCC[8]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 2,026
1900 1,600 −21.0%
1910 7,311 356.9%
1920 7,549 3.3%
1930 8,058 6.7%
1940 7,414 −8.0%
1950 8,657 16.8%
1960 8,586 −0.8%
1970 10,054 17.1%
1980 11,555 14.9%
1990 12,101 4.7%
2000 14,742 21.8%
2010 16,336 10.8%
Est. 2014 16,623 [9] 1.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[10]
2014 Estimate[3]

2010 census

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 16,336 people, 6,640 households, and 3,867 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,201.6 inhabitants per square mile (850.0/km2). There were 7,265 housing units at an average density of 979.1 per square mile (378.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 85.1% White, 0.6% African American, 1.4% Native American, 1.0% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 7.4% from other races, and 4.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 16.1% of the population.

There were 6,640 households of which 31.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.7% were married couples living together, 14.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 41.8% were non-families. 33.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 3.06.

The median age in the city was 34.8 years. 24.7% of residents were under the age of 18; 10.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.7% were from 25 to 44; 22.3% were from 45 to 64; and 16.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.3% male and 51.7% female.

2000 census

As of the census of 2000, there were 14,742 people, 5,943 households, and 3,565 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,990.6 people per square mile (768.1/km²). There were 6,510 housing units at an average density of 879.0 per square mile (339.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 89.76% White, 0.44% African American, 1.25% Native American, 0.94% Asian, 0.30% Pacific Islander, 4.94% from other races, and 2.38% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.22% of the population.

There were 5,943 households out of which 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.7% were married couples living together, 13.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.0% were non-families. 32.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 3.02.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.2% under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 25.7% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 19.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 89.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,078, and the median income for a family was $35,684. Males had a median income of $31,595 versus $22,076 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,305. About 13.6% of families and 18.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.4% of those under age 18 and 10.8% of those age 65 or over.

Intercity rail transportation

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Centralia. Amtrak train 11, the southbound Coast Starlight, is scheduled to depart Centralia at 11:45am with service to Kelso-Longview, Portland, Sacramento, Emeryville, California (with bus connection to San Francisco), and Los Angeles. Amtrak train 14, the northbound Coast Starlight, is scheduled to depart Centralia at 5:57pm daily with service to Olympia-Lacey, Tacoma and Seattle. Amtrak Cascades trains, operating as far north as Vancouver, British Columbia and as far south as Eugene, Oregon, serve Centralia several times daily in both directions.

Government and politics

Centralia is a noncharter code city with a Council-Manager form of government. The City Council consists of seven members with positions one through three being at-large positions.

Although slightly less so than Lewis County as a whole, Centralia is conservative and fairly Republican.

2012 presidential election results in Centralia, Washington[11]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Mitt Romney 3,032 51.5
Democratic Barack Obama 2,676 45.5
Libertarian Gary Johnson 98 1.7
Green Jill Stein 30 0.5
Constitution Virgil Goode 26 0.4
Justice Rocky Anderson 14 0.2
Socialism and Liberation Peta Lindsay 3 0.1
Socialist Workers James Harris 3 0.1
Total votes 5,882 100.0

Media outlets

Centralia's leading newspaper is The Chronicle and is ranked seventeenth in the state based on weekday circulation [1] and serves most of Lewis County. There are also several community-based newspapers that are published bi-weekly, such as The Lewis County News and The East County Journal.

AM Radio

FM Radio

Centralia College

Centralia College[12] is the oldest continuously operating junior college in the state of Washington. The college has been in operation since September 14, 1925. The college’s first classes were held in the top floor of the Centralia High School building and classes were taught by part-time teachers who also taught high school students.

The college found its beginning in large part due to the efforts of C. L. Littel, Centralia Public Schools Superintendent and Dean Frederick E. Bolton of the University of Washington School of Education. During the early years Centralia College prepared students who would later go on to enroll at the University of Washington and a special partnership between the colleges remained in place until 1947. The following year Centralia College earned its accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Two years later the college’s first major campus building, Kemp Hall, was constructed in the heart of Centralia.

The effort to expand and develop a separate campus was largely influenced by the end of WWII and newly enacted GI Bill. This created an oversupply of new students ready to train for their career with limited space to do so. Just prior to this, enrollment had been shrinking, as many young Centralians and other residents of Lewis County had left to join the war effort. Prior to the war, the college’s future was previously in jeopardy during the Great Depression and resulting local bank closures. From approximately 1925 through the 1940s the college was primarily funded through private loans and donations from local businesses and community members, but steady funds were not always readily available. Credit for Centralia College surviving during these difficult times is in part given to Margaret Corbet, administrator, faculty member, and namesake of Corbet Hall, due to her efforts to keep the college financially afloat.[13][14][15][16]

Starting in the fall of 2012, Centralia College will begin offering a bachelor's degree program in Applied Science in Management.[17] The degree is the first undergraduate degree offered by the college and part of an overall expansion of the school under the projected '20 year plan'.[18]

File:Centralia College Panorama.jpg
Centralia College Panorama

Points of interest

File:Centralia Timberland Library.jpg
Centralia Timberland Library

Carnegie Library[19] is located in Washington Park and was originally built in 1913 followed by a remodel in 1977-78. The building houses a large chandelier taken from the old Centralia High School. The library is now part of the Timberland Regional Library system. Every summer, the library hosts the annual Twin Cities pet show, and in the month of December, it is the site of the annual Christmas Tree Lighting.

Centralia Factory Outlets[20] is an outlet mall that hosts tenants such as Aéropostale, Bass, Bath & Body Works, Billabong, Christian Outlet, Claire’s, Coach, Eddie Bauer, Helly Hansen, Lane Bryant, Nike Clearance Store, Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store, Quiksilver, Van Heusen, VF Outlet, Volcom and others.

Centralia Farmer’s Market[21] is held Fridays, May to September and has been in existence since 1996. The market features locally grown produce, annuals and perennials, baked goods and handcrafted items.

Centralia Park System[22][23] consists of a variety of 15 beautiful parks, trails, and recreational and outdoor areas of interest scattered across 240 acres of combined space. Fort Borst Park is the largest of these areas with over 100 acres of park space. It is home to Borst Park Pond, nearby Chehalis and Skookumchuck Rivers, and adjoining outdoor sports facilities. Within the park you can also find the historic 1860s Borst Mansion, the iconic old Fort Borst Blockhouse and a replica of the original Borst One Room Schoolhouse.

File:Centralia Union Depot, interior.jpg
The interior of Centralia Union Depot

Centralia Union Depot was built in 1912 and features red brick architecture, vintage oak benches, and internal and external woodworking throughout. In 1996, restoration projects were started. They finished in 2002. The depot is currently served by Amtrak as the midpoint between Kelso, Washington and Olympia, Washington. The depot is also served by connections to the Twin Transit Transportation system and is located within walking distance to Carnegie Library, Historic Fox Theater, McMenamin’s Olympic Club Hotel & Theater, and Santa Lucia Coffee Company, as well as various eateries, shops and antique vendors.

Fox Theater[24] originally opened on September 5, 1930. It was built with approximately 1,200 seats over three seating levels. The first film seen by the public was Buster Keaton in Doughboys. In 1982 the theater underwent renovations and separated the main stage into three smaller screening areas. The theater closed in 1998 and was purchased by Opera Pacifica in 2004 and underwent initial stages of restoration. In 2007 the City of Centralia bought the theater and it is currently being further restored by the Historic Fox Theatre Restorations. Limited film performances began again in 2009.

McMenamin’s Olympic Club Hotel & Theater[25][26] opened in 1908 followed by an extensive remodel in 1913. Since then much of the building has remained unchanged. The hotel hosts 27 European-style guestrooms. Each room is named after a person of interest, including Roy Gardner, a train robber caught behind the hotel in 1921. The club was originally only frequented by gentlemen but has been opened to families for many years. The theater shows second run films, musical and comedy performances, and some televised sports events. The theater has replaced theater seating with various chairs and couches throughout. The pub serves Terminator Stout, Hammerhead, Ruby and other beverages and food items. Adjoining the pub and dining area is a 6-table poolroom and snooker table that was recently rated in the top 5 for “Best Pool Hall in Western Washington." Every April or May the Olympic Club host its annual Brewfest, where local, import and guest brews are highlighted.

Murals are found throughout historic downtown Centralia. Examples include murals depicting: The founder of Centralia (Centerville) named George Washington, Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show and an abstract mural depicting the 1919 Armistice Day Centralia Massacre also known as the Wobbly War.

Notable residents

Notable natives of Centralia include modern dancer Merce Cunningham, singer Ann Boleyn, Milwaukee Brewer Lyle Overbay, cable television and early mobile phone entrepreneur Craig McCaw, CFL offensive lineman Calvin Armstrong, video game designer and programmer Soren Johnson, Stanford quarterback Tavita Pritchard, former MLB outfielder Bob Coluccio, Metropolitan Opera soprano Angela Meade. Longtime NBA player Detlef Schrempf attended Centralia High School as an exchange student from the former West Germany (1980–1981), starring in basketball

  • USAF General CD Moore (Class of 76)[27]


Seattle-based rock band Harvey Danger uses Centralia as a metaphor in its song "Moral Centralia," found on the 2005 album Little by Little....

Seattle-based underground rock band Tuna mentions " Centralia's sweet Sampson " in their song Krazy Kat


  1. 1.0 1.1 "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-12-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-12-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 28, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Centralia". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Daily Olympian article
  6. Boone, Rolf. Unemployment claims dropped more than 300 from peak, report says. The Olympian. May 17, 2007.
  7. Climate Summary for Centralia, Washington
  8. "CENTRALIA, WASHINGTON (451276)". Western Regional Climate Centre. Retrieved November 15, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "U.S. Decennial Census". Census.gov. Retrieved June 7, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. http://vote.wa.gov/results/20121106/lewis/Precincts-1.html
  12. http://www.centralia.edu/
  13. http://www.centralia.edu/admin/
  14. http://www.centralia.k12.wa.us/22841064104033117/site/default.asp
  15. http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=8507
  16. http://www.centralia.edu/international/pdf/CompleteHandbook.doc
  17. http://www.centralia.edu/academics/BAS/
  18. http://www.centralia.edu/admin/masterplan.html
  19. http://www.trlib.org/Locations/Pages/LibraryInformation.aspx?lib=ce
  20. http://centraliafactoryoutlet.com/
  21. http://www.lewiscountyfarmersmarket.org/index.html
  22. http://www.cityofcentralia.com/Page.asp?NavID=430
  23. http://www.ohwy.com/wa/b/borsthom.htm
  24. http://www.centraliafoxtheatre.com/
  25. http://www.mcmenamins.com/1282-olympic-club-pub-home
  26. http://best.king5.com/olympic-club/biz/580704
  27. "www.af.mil". Retrieved June 25, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links