Centralia Train Depot
Railroads were king in the mid-to-late 1800s when Centralia was founded. The line which was built northward to connect Seattle with Oregon ran right through the town, and in 1912 the now historic Union Depot was built.
The Depot serves as a reminder of the boom Centralia experienced during the early 1900s. Between 1900 and 1914 the population increased by almost 400%. By 1914, 44 passenger trains and 17 freight trains passed through Centralia every day, and passengers were accommodated by 14 bustling hotels along Tower Avenue. The presence of the Depot and the traffic it served as the cornerstone of the downtown business district, just a block away.
The first Depot was built in 1880 by the Northern Pacific Railroad and sat on the corner of Main and Railroad Avenues. The small wood-framed building was followed by a larger wood building in 1905, known locally as "Noah's Ark" due to its architectural design.
The current Depot was built of brick in 1912 and was dedicated at the 1912 "Hub City Festival", along with the Carnegie Library and the now-demolished Dumon Building.
The brick structure is an excellent example of an architectural style of Depots commonly found in medium-sized towns in pre-WWII America. The fine brick ornamentation, interior woodwork, tiling, and oak benches remain. Stencils warnings along the exterior base of the building stating "Don't Spit" can still be seen today.
The Depot was completely renovated and reopened for daily service. Funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Washington State Department of Transportation. Local residents and local officials are especially happy with the restored Depot as is the Washington Association of Rail Passengers.
Everyone wanted to keep the feel of the original decor and the building architecture, which fits in well with the other historical buildings in the Historic Downtown District. The curved ceilings are highlighted by a hanging chandelier along with incandescent bulbs which surround the rectangular opening in the waiting room. The Depot has become one of the best-looking buildings in downtown Centralia.
The waiting room was left with its original dark-oak seats. The Depot is used by both Amtrak passengers and as a rest stop for local transit passengers. A new brass drinking fountain was installed that gives a feeling of timeless beauty and functionality. The brass contrasts and compliments the many oak features throughout the building.
Residents, City officials, and Amtrak personnel are rightfully proud of the remodeled Depot. There are dozens of antique shops within a two or three-minute walk. The area also contains many murals highlighting historical events of Lewis County and Centralia.