Centralia, WA downtown historic district

All About Centralia, WA

The town of Centralia has a fascinating history. Before there was a town, there was just the toll ferry at the confluence of the Chehalis and Skookumchuck rivers. It was the halfway point for stagecoaches that operated between Tacoma and Kalama. In 1850, J.G. Cochran, his wife Anna, followed the Oregon Trail to the area because the newly formed Washington Territory had no restrictions against passing legal ownership of land to African-Americans, which their adopted son George Washington was.

Washington and his wife Mary filed a plat for the town of Centerville (later renamed Centralia) in 1872. They sold very affordable lots to people and donated more for a city park, a cemetery, and a church. The town boomed until the panic of 1893, but Washington kept it afloat by making personal loans and forgiving debt. Once again, the town boomed thanks to the coal, lumber, and dairy industries. When Washington died in 1905, every business in town closed so that they could all attend his funeral.

The new boom lasted until 1919 when it was disrupted by the infamous Centralia Massacre. Disgruntled WWI veterans in the American Legionnaires returned home to find their jobs filled by pro-union workers. They used the parade on Armistice Day to attack the union hall, hoping to bust the union organizing efforts. The union men fought back, resulting in the deaths of four Legionnaires. The man who killed them was later brutally lynched in retaliation. The Centralia Massacre and similar stories from other lumber towns stifled the American labor movement until the Great Depression.

Ash & Roberts DDS in Centralia, WA

Dr. Ash and Dr. Roberts love providing dental services to patients from Centralia. Our practice is located right on Borst Ave, just four minutes away from the Borst Home! We offer everything from preventative treatment to root canal therapy to full smile makeovers!

See Centralia, WA Has to Offer!

There are several great landmarks and points of interest to see in Centralia. The Borst home, built in 1964 at the site of the original toll ferry crossing, is older than the town! The Carnegie Library located in Washington Park was originally built in 1913 and is still in operation as part of the Timberland Regional Library system.

What was once the Elks Lodge built in 1920 is now Centralia Square Grand Ballroom and Hotel. Restored to its original glory in 2015, it’s a great local place to host weddings and other events. If you’re visiting town, you might arrive by train, which would give you a great view of Centralia Union Depot, built in 1912 and recently renovated. Around downtown Centralia, keep an eye out for murals of Buffalo Bill, the Centralia Massacre, and the town’s founder, George Washington.