Chehalis area’s string of unused railroad cars

The in basket: The Road Warrior was actually on the road the past couple of

weeks, motoring to Southern California and Las Vegas. As I often do on such

trips, a take note of things the readers back home might notice, wonder or appreciate a heads-up


Take tlhe stretch of I-5 between Grand Mound (that’s where Great Wolf Lodge

is) and Chehalis. It’s hard to miss mile after mile of seemingly abandoned

railroad cars just west of the highway. They’re the kind that carry metal

containers that arrive on ships, one container stacked upon another.

They were there in July when I passed through, and they were there again in

late October. I couldn’t tell if there were any more or fewer than in July,

but there seemed to be thousands of them.

The out basket: Not quite thousands, according to a June 28 report in the

News Tribune of Tacoma.

There were 1,900 then, 1,500 of the container carriers and another 400 that

carry lumber. They were among 365,343 such cars idled nationwide in June

and that number was growing by 700 to 1,000 a month, the article quoted an

railroad industry spokesperson as saying. So maybe it really is thousands north

of Chehalis by now. .

They are a glaring measure of the recession that tell the tale much more

clearly than the economic numbers that try to do the job. It also says a lot

about just how much stuff we import in the good times.

As the June article put it, “During better times, they would be moving

between the West Coast and the Midwest carrying containers loaded with

electronics, auto parts and consumer goods made in Asia to American retailers and


It called them “a casualty of a precipitous drop in import and export

activity through American ports,” including Tacoma’s.

One thought on “Chehalis area’s string of unused railroad cars

  1. I don’t know if they are still there but when I was at the Museum of Flight several months ago were appeared to be hundreds of train engines similarly stored. By the way, Tacoma RR gets huge rents for those stored container cars. Can’t remember where I read about it. Rob

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