The walkway between the Centralia Carnegie Library and Washington Street through George Washington Park is dedicated to the memory of fallen veterans of the area. The flower beds on each side of the sidewalk have been planted to produce a red, white and blue pattern during the season the flowers are in bloom. Monument stones in the center of the sidewalk list the names of those who are honored here.
The memorial has an unfortunate history that many would have forgotten if not for the memorial statue erected here. In an incident called the Centalia Massacre in the national press, an armed dispute arose during the 1919 Armistice Day Parade. A monument to the four Word War I veterans killed during the civil strife was placed here in 1924.
After the Iraq war of the early 1990s, the decsion was made to create a more extensive war memorial than just the memorial to the Centralia Massacre, and thus was born the Freedom Walk.
Although it was dedicated in 1993, additions do still happen from time to time. For example, there is now a memorial to the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks as part of the Freedom Walk.
Located just off a jug-handle shaped street named Lowe Street, Riverside Park is hidden for the most part from most visitors to Centralia, despite it being only several blocks from busy Interstate 5. The park consists of a large flat area that sits in a slow bend in the Skookumchuck River. There is open space where two sports fields allow various activities, but much of the park sits in the shelter of fairly large evergreen trees. There are a number of picnic shelters ("First come first served" is listed on most of them - so no reservations allowed on those, but the city web site says reservations are allowed at some of them), a playground, a paved trail that parallels the river, and several exercise stations beside the paved trail. There are also a number of picnic tables that are close to the river, though none of those have a shelter structure over them.
Officially speaking the nearby Skate Park is also part of Riverside Park, though the nature is quite different and the entrance to the park also has quite a different appearance.
How to Get Here:
Approximately two blocks east of Interstate 5 on Harrison Avenue from Exit 82, a bit past the Burgerville you will find Lowe Street going north. This street is a jug handle shape, and re-connects to Harrison Avenue at a traffic light just before the small bridge over the Skookumchuck River. Turn right at either of these locations and the park is located on the north side of Lowe Street.
This skate park is located next to the entrance to Riverside Park, and the city of Centralia web site puts it into the same page as Riverside Park. However, the name on the sign specifically calls the skate park "Fuller's Twin City Skate Park".
The skate park seems to be quite large, and reasonably popular with the local youth, both on bikes and on skateboards. There are only certain types of ramps available here, but the sheer size of the park for the size of the town in which it is located seems to make up for this, as well as the creativity of those using the facilities. There isn't any shade to speak of, except across the street in Riverside Park.
There are lights above the skate park to allow night use.
A summary of the rules posted on the sign:
+ Hours: 8 am to 10 pm.
+ Bikes, Blades, Boards - NO Scooters, No Remote Control Devices
+ No Alcohol, Drugs, Tobacco, and/or Glass Containers
+ No Food or Beverage
+ No Fighting or Bad Language
+ No Vandalism, Graffiti or Tagging
+ No apparatus is to be removed or added without consent of the Centralia Parks Department and/or Fuller's Twin City Skate Park Foundation
+ Both experienced and Inexperienced skaters use this facility. Serious injury or death may result from being hit by a skateboard, falling, or colliding. The City of Centralia and Fuller's Twin City Skate Park Foundation does not assume responsibility for injuries.
+ The use of protective equipment including helmets, knee pads, and elbow and wrist guards is strongly recommended.
+ Non-skaters and spectators are to stay off skating areas and remain behind fencing at all times.
How to Get Here:
Located directly east of Interstate 5 on Harrison Avenue. Exit 82, go two blocks west of the freeway, and turn north onto Lowe Street. From downtown Centralia use Main Street, which turns into Harrison Avenue. Turn onto Lowe Street just after crossing the river (which is quite small here).
Having been founded in the 1870s, it should not be surprised that there are a number of old grave stones in the old pioneer cemetery. While not of primary interest to most visitors, you will find some interesting clues to the lives of the early years here. I was unable to find any grave stones dating before 1899, but that does not mean older ones do not exist here. That 1899 grave (see photo 3) was an infant less than a year old.
The cemetery is well shaded and is a reasonably peaceful place as the streets surrounding the cemetery are not heavily traveled streets - which is a pleasant change from some of the other historic cemeteries in Oregon and Washington.
The main entrance to the cemetery is approximately at Washington Avenue and W. Maple Street. Much of the cemetery is surrounded by fence, but the east side is the entrance area. From the main downtown area I suggest walking west on Pine or Maple until you get to Washington. If driving and coming through on Interstate 5, I suggest getting off at Exit 82, turning left onto W 1st Street immediately after crossing the Skookumchuch River on Harrison Street, and then turning right onto Washington after several blocks (street after J street).
Dogs are not permitted in the cemetery, nor is jogging or certain other activities.
Recent volunteer efforts have helped the city document and archive the cemetery, and there is some thought this could become another addition to the historic downtown area assets.
I can't tell you much about this place, as it has been closed both times I have stopped by it and there were no publicly posted hours.
However, I can tell you that there is a great deal of art in the yard, and those with a taste for the eccentric should probably take the time to stop by!
How to Get Here:
From Interstate 5: Exit 82 and go west towards downtown on Harrison Avenue. Just after crossing the river keep right on Harrison. Two blocks after crossing the river, the house will be at the intersection of Harrison and M streets. If you want to get out and look, it is much better if you turn left just after crossing the river. You are then on W. 1st Street. After two blocks turn right onto M, and find a good street-side parking spot. This prevents you from having to cross either 1st or Harrison on foot, which are both very busy and difficult to cross on foot at times.
From downtown: head west on Main Street, which turns into Harrison after it makes a short turn to the right. M street is the next intersection after the curve and name change in the road.
By bus: several bus routes operate on W. 1st Street, but be careful in crossing 1st on foot.
Named after the ex-slave founder of Centralia, Washington Park is a single city block located near the core of downtown with some very large trees, a bandstand / gazebo, flower beds, and is also the home of the Centralia Library.
Naturally, as the park named in honor of George Washington (the founder of Centralia), the park contains a memorial and brief history to the visionary and enterprising individual who thought of starting a town on this site.
The other significant features of the park are:
+ the Freedom Walk - which is a series of monuments to fallen war veterans from Lewis County.
+ the statue by Alonzo Victor Lewis's titled The Sentinel - which serves as a memorial to the veterans killed during the Centralia Massacre
+ a Monument to the Founder of Centralia - an ex-slave named George Washington