The Port’s Interpretive Center tells the story of how transportation formed the way Kalama was settled and developed, while treating visitors to immersive display models, replicas and videos.
The most dramatic being the 1917 Northern Pacific Steam Locomotive that once traversed the rail lines through early Kalama in its operating years. This towering locomotive must be seen in person to truly appreciate it.
Other exhibits track Kalama’s first inhabitants, including famed Oregon Trail writer, Ezra Meeker, the Cowlitz Tribe and other settlers that followed over the next 100+ years.
Visitors will also learn how Kalama’s particular landscape gave birth to a booming transportation system impacting the area both culturally and economically— ultimately transforming the area into its position today as an internationally-connected community.
In 2021, the Port was fortunate to capture a series of interviews between BNSF’s Gus Melonas and Jack Christensen, a former Northern Pacific engineer who maintained and operated locomotives similar to the Port’s Northern Pacific 1762 locomotive. Jack’s unique perspective on historic locomotives–like the one in our Interpretive Center–gives valuable context into a time long before the modernization of railroads.
Many other types of exhibits (and their accompanying videos) are found in the Interpretive Center. Click through the features below and learn how transportation has changed the face of our city and the Port of Kalama over the last one hundred plus years.