Chehalis-Centralia Railroad works to cover operating costs instead of revenue-generating rides

By Emily Fitzgerald and Daniel Warn / The Chronicle

Despite flooding and insurance issues that led to a devastating first quarter for the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum (CCRM) and the resignation of the CCRM chairman, current railroad management is confident that it will able to put the ACRM back “on track”. ”

“This dedicated group of railroad directors and members are anything but timid when it comes to problem solving and perseverance,” said CRMC President Mary Kay Nelson in a press release.

CCRM closed all passenger operations on March 6 after its insurer was unable to renew CCRM’s liability insurance policy.

Factors in the loss of liability insurance were CCRM losses, which amounted to $1.064 million over six years, as well as a lack of business experience in CCRM operations, according to insurance broker Tripp. Salisbury, by Borden Perlman McRAIL.

McRAIL – a New Jersey-based railroad insurance provider – was CCRM’s insurance agency when the railroad closed in March, but CCRM has since transitioned to a local home, auto and company: WF West alumni Neil Muller, of Bell-Anderson Insurance.

Muller, along with Phil Brooke, a CCRM volunteer and vice president of the Cowlitz River Valley Depot Museum, were instrumental in obtaining liability insurance for the CCRM premises, according to Nelson.

“These people both know the value of the Chehalis Centralia Railroad as a historic attraction preserving the history of the railroad in Centralia, Chehalis and Lewis County,” she said in the statement.

CCRM has obtained premises liability insurance, which allows people to work on CCRM property on 8 April.

CCRM will need to take out railway liability insurance before it can resume passenger service.

“The search for insurance coverage for revenue-generating passenger excursions is under review pending closure of issues that have yet to be finalized,” Nelson said in the press release.

Repair work on a mile of track that was washed away in the January 6 flood will require the continued closure of passenger operations for the spring and summer months, according to Nelson.

Meanwhile, volunteers are reassembling the Engine 15 steam train and working on “dozens of projects,” including repairs and renovations to 1920s carriages, according to Nelson.

“Currently, more than 50 members of the organization donate time, talents and resources to this beloved attraction,” Nelson said in the press release.

“Time permitting, more work will be done, but without income, projects will have to rely on donated time and materials,” Nelson said in the press release.

To make up for the shortfall in revenue, Nelson appeared before Chehalis Town Council on Monday to ask it to change the use of accommodation tax funds he received from the town last year to include coverage for Functionnary costs.

The city’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC) awarded CCRM $29,860 specifically for tourism promotion, advertising, and projects that promote tourism only.

LTAC is responsible by law for selecting recipients of accommodation tax fund allocations, which must then be approved by the city council.

Nelson’s request was reportedly made specifically to LTAC, but Chehalis City Manager Jill Anderson explained that due to staffing changes, LTAC is currently unstaffed. Thus the request before the city council to change the use of funds.

“We have about $6,000 in bills to pay every month, whether we race or not,” Nelson told the city council. “So it’s just to pay our general operating expenses. And so, $30,000 will last us five months.

However, CCRM does not want to use all of the $29,860 for its operating expenses.

“We are not in a hopeless situation. We have a bank account. We can be good,” Nelson said. “It’s just that we looked at renting the units that we have for the washrooms and our offices, and those together (are) $1,000 a month. So it’s $12,000 because we thought we could use the accommodation tax dollars that weren’t being used in marketing because we’re not operating (to) bump that bill.

There have been discussions among councilors about whether the change in use of funds should be decided by a rebuilt LTAC before it is brought to council, on a legal basis.

While Anderson believed the law allowed the board to change the use of funds, she told the board that LTAC could be rebuilt in about 60 days, for a possible decision in June on the matter.

When Mayor Tony Ketchum asked Nelson if the CCRM could wait for the change of use until June, she said “yes”, so the council voted unanimously to redirect the matter to an LTAC. rebuilt.

For more information or to offer support or donations to CCRM, visit or contact [email protected]

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