Griffin Area Logging Railroads

Three different logging railroads served the greater Griffin area many years ago.

These railroads are discussed in Gone But Not Forgotten – Abandoned Railroads of Thurston County, Washington, written by Dr. James Hannum, a resident of our community.

The Puget Sound and Chehalis Railroad was the first railroad. It was also known as the Mosher and McDonald Railroad and then the McCleary Timber Company Railroad. The railroad had 12 miles of track terminating on Mud Bay at the current address of 2144 Madrona Beach Road NW. This site is about 1.4 miles up Madrona Beach Road northwest of the park and ride lot on Mud Bay.

The railroad was constructed shortly after 1888. Soon after Henry McCleary purchased the railroad in 1906, the link to Mud Bay was abandoned after a connection was made from McCleary to the Northern Pacific Railroad. Logs were rolled into Mud Bay from a log rollway running parallel with the shoreline and then rafted to saw mills located on Puget Sound. Two switchbacks took the railroad up the hill around the Indian Shaker Church before the railroad began running westward to McCleary, generally south of what is now Highway 8.

The most remembered railroad serving the greater Griffin area was the Mud Bay Logging Company Railroad. Initially the railroad was called the Thurston County Central Railroad. It was constructed around 1906 and abandoned in 1941.

The Mud Bay Logging Company Railroad eventually had two mainlines totaling 35 miles. An extensive facility was located on Mud Bay where the park and ride lot is now located just east of where Perry Creek enters Mud Bay. Logs were hauled from the company’s logging operations, dumped into Mud Bay, and then rafted to sawmills on Puget Sound. Remnants of several piers may still be seen extending into the Bay north or the park and ride lot. A marker commemorating the facility is located at the northwest end of the park and ride lot.

The initial railroad ran southward from the terminus on Mud Bay, across the county right of way on what is now Madrona Beach Road, and up Delphi Valley on the west side of McLane Creek down to Waddell Creek. Short spurs snaked out from the mainline to serve areas where logging occurred. A branch line was built westward from its original line to serve the company’s operations in the north portion of the Black Hills. Again, a large number of short spur lines were connected to this new mainline.

Dr. Hannum indicates that a third railroad (the Jameson Logging Company Railroad) also served the greater Griffin area running into Summit Lake from the south. Not many records of this railroad remain. It appears to have been built around 1905. This railroad may actually have been a short section of the old McClearly Timber Railroad. A short history of Summit Lake includes a hand drawn map that shows the McClearly Railroad running westward from the northwest shore of Summit Lake and then parallel with Highway 8 toward McCleary.

Bill Durward recalls helping his father take the annual school census for Schneider’s Prairie School District in 1922 or 1923. They traveled by automobile up what is now Highway 8, parked on the side of the road, and walked up railroad tracks leading to company houses on Summit Lake. Presumably there was no auto road leading to the Lake at that time. The northern portion of Summit Lake was located in Schneider’s Prairie School District and remains part of the Griffin School District. Bill recalls the railroad as being called the McCleary Timber Company Railroad. The short connection to Summit Lake probably was soon abandoned as a 1929 Metsker map of Thurston County shows the McCleary Railroad ending several miles west of Summit Lake.


Steve Lundin is a long-time resident of the Griffin community located in northwest Thurston County. He received a B.A. degree from the University of Washington and a J.D. degree from the University of Washington Law School and recently retired as a senior counsel for the Washington State House of Representatives after nearly 30 years.

He is recognized as the local historian of the Griffin area and has written a number of articles on local history and a book entitled Griffin Area Schools, available from the Griffin Neighborhood Association at a cost of $10.

Lundin also wrote a comprehensive reference book on local governments in Washington State entitled The Closest Governments to the People – A Complete Reference Guide to Local Government in Washington State. The book costs $85, plus shipping and handling. It is available on the web from the Division of Governmental Studies and Services, Washington State University, at or from WSU Extension at .

Steamboat Conservation Partnership Reception, December 6

Please join us at a reception on Sunday, December 6th, from 3 – 5 PM, in the Prosperity Grange (3701 Steamboat Island Road), to learn about the Steamboat Conservation Partnership and the Capitol Land Trust’s activities to protect land in our area. Wine, soft drinks, coffee and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

The Steamboat Conservation Partnership is a unique relationship between the Griffin Neighborhood Association and the Capitol Land Trust. The Partnership is designed to finance a portion of the Land Trust’s operating expenses in the Eld Inlet and Totten Inlet watersheds. These activities encourage the voluntary action of land owners to set aside rural tracts of farmland, forests, wetlands and coastal areas as conservation parcels left in their natural state.

The Steamboat Conservation Partnership provides us with an incredible opportunity to preserve some of the special lands right here in our own neighborhoods.

The Capitol Land Trust has a number of exciting projects in our area. Our contributions have helped fund the Capitol Land Trust’s efforts to encourage the voluntary action of land owners to set aside rural tracts of farmland, forests, wetlands and coastal areas as conservation parcels left in their natural state.

Eric Erler, Executive Director of the Capitol Land Trust, will review the progress they have made to date. There will also be a slide show, maps and literature on the properties set aside by the Trust.

Visit the Griffin Neighborhood Association website at to learn more about the Steamboat Conservation Partnership. Visit the Capitol Land Trust website at to learn more about the Land Trust.

If you can attend the reception, please RSVP by phone at 866-1214 or by email at

Feel free to bring friends who are interested in the Steamboat Conservation Partnership.

We hope you will be able to attend the reception, celebrate what our donations have accomplished, and socialize with our neighbors.

Health & Safety Fair This Saturday

Sponsored by Griffin PTO, Griffin’s Health Advisory & Safe Schools/Caring Climate Committees, a Health and Safety Fair will be held this Saturday at Griffin School.

Saturday, November 21, 2009
10:00 a.m. to Noon

It’s fun and free! Enjoy interactive activities, games, contests and more! The Health & Safety Fair is an event to increase health & safety awareness by providing health screenings, activities, and materials for students and community members.

Get Your Flu Shot ($25.00)

The West Side Safeway Pharmacy is offering flu shots again for a fraction of the cost! Bring your medical card and you may be able to get your flu shot for free! Your insurance can also be billed. You must be 11 years old or older! Also, H1N1 shots will be offered if vaccinations are available at this time.

Meet Smokey Bear!

Want to meet Smokey Bear & pledge to do your part to prevent wildfires? Try on “Bunker Gear” & see what its like to feel like a real fire fighter. Take the smoke house challenge and learn how to create a safety plan for your family. Visit the Griffin Fire Dept. Booth at this year’s fair.

Race Wacky Trikes!

Monitor your resting heart rate and your active heart rate as you race competitors on “Wacky Trikes” through an inflatable race track! This is great exercise and lots of fun for kids and adults too!

Visit “Germ City”

Think your hands are clean? Think again! Visit Germ City again at this year’s fair and see just how clean your hands really are. Germ City is walk through booth provided by Thurston County Health Department!

Take Advantage of “Iris Recognition Technology”

Have a high resolution digital photograph of your child’s eye (iris) taken for identity purposes and get a one of a kind I.D. Card provided by the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office!

Griffin Transportation Department

Learn how Griffin School District keeps your students safe while they are transported to and from school. Meet some of our bus drivers, and watch a cool bus safety video!

Advanced Medical Supplies

Did you know that Griffin School currently has two defibrillators? Do you know what a defibrillator is? Staff members from Advanced Medical Supplies will be on hand to help you learn the basics of CPR, as well as how to recognize and use a defibrillator.

Help Stop Crime with Crime Stoppers!

Learn how you can help stop crime by visiting the Crime Stoppers booth at this year’s fair. Lacey, Olympia, and Tumwater Police Departments along with Thurston County Sheriff’s Office will make you an honorary Crime Stopper when you visit their booth!

Learn How Loud too Loud is . . .

Watch as your hearing is being tested with Kelley Powers, M.A. Clinical Audiologist from ENT and Associates! She will help you find out what ‘hair cells,” “tinnitus” and “turn it to the left” have in common. See the smallest bones in your body and learn how your hearing works.

Simon Says . . . Dance, Dance, Dance Revolution!

Participate in a Simon Says style music game (Dance, Dance Revolution). Come see if you have rhythm then step onto the stage and prove it! You’ll love dancing to the rhythm as you get your excise!

Techniques for Helping Kids Manage Stress

The Family Support Center will offer stress management techniques, information and activities for Griffin Kids. Students will get to decorate cards with information they learn hands-on.

Quake Ready Earthquake Kits

Do you have the supplies you need in the event of and earthquake? Don’t have time to prepare? Quake Ready Kits does it for you. Purchase car kits, home kits, large or small!

Play PTO BINGO, & Enter to win DOOR PRIZES (Sponsored by the PTO)!

Shoreline Living Workshop: Creating a Sound Landscape

You are invited to attend a free workshop that will teach shoreline residents how to preserve and replant shorelines to stabilize slopes, protect Puget Sound, and provide wildlife habitat. It will be held on Thursday December 3rd, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Griffin Fire Hall, 3707 Steamboat Loop NW, Olympia.

Topics will include how to create a beautiful landscape that protects the shoreline and requires little maintenance once established, what you can do on your own and when to call in the experts, how to have a view and trees, too, and other shoreline stewardship tips.

Click here to view this program’s flyer.

Bring your questions and take home answers along with reference materials for later use. Though the workshop is free, advanced registration is requested to ensure materials and space for everyone. Call 360-427-9670 ext. 680 to register or for more information. You may also register by email

This workshop was made possible and funded by the WA State Department of Ecology, Environmental Protection Agency, People for Puget Sound, Mason County, and the Mason County Extension (Washington State University). The Country Living Workshops project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement WS-96073501 to the Squaxin Island Tribe.

Planning Commission to Hold Mineral Lands Public Hearings this Wednesday

The Thurston County Planning Commission is conducting a public hearing this Wednesday, November 18 regarding portions of the County’s Comprehensive Plan related to the designation of mineral resource lands.

The draft plan proposes that areas zoned 1 to 5 acres, as is most of our peninsula, are available for designation as mineral lands. Some critical areas are excluded, but not all.

For purposes of this discussion, the term”minerals” includes “gravel, sand, and valuable metallic substances.”

Within Thurston County, minerals of potentially long-term commercial significance include sand and gravel deposits, coal deposits, and a few rock resources, such as columnar basalt (shot rock) and sandstone.

Click here to download a draft of the proposed amendment to the Comprehensive Plan.

Wednesday, November 18
7 PM
Thurston County Courthouse Complex
Building #1 – Room 280
2000 Lakeridge Drive SW
Olympia, WA 98502
Click here to read the notice of public hearing.

County staff on this topic are Olivia Terwilleger and Scott Clark, Long Range Planning Director. The County Development Services office contact information is:
Phone: (360) 786-5490
TDD line: (360) 754-2933
Fax: (360) 754-2939

Schafer State Park Salmon Bake – November 14

Come join a Salmon Bake at Schafer State Park on Saturday November 14th at 1:00pm. The event will celebrate success in keeping the Park open despite the state budget deficit. You will hear about progress at the Park, historical research, plans for next year and formation of Friends of Schafer and Lake Sylvia State Parks. Sue Schafer , who recently published the letters of John D. Schafer who settled in the area in 1871, will be present to discuss her book and sign copies. Schafer Park is on the Satsop River near the border between Mason and Grays Harbor Counties. Spend a day in the woods in one of the most beautiful areas in the State.

Salmon and beverages will be provided, but the Schafer Team asks guests to bring a side dish to share.

If you are coming, please rsvp, so we know how many salmon to catch!


World Affairs Lecture – Building Schools in Afghanistan

A free lecture on building schools in Afghanistan is set for 7:30pm at the Olympia Center on Thursday, November 19th.

Julia Bolz, award winning social justice activist and president of Ayni Education International, will describe her work in one of the most dangerous areas in the world. After leaving a successful law practice in Seattle, Julia has spent the past ten years helping to educate children, especially girls, by building and renovating schools in Afghanistan. She and her team have defied all odds by building and supplying 17 large, new schools and repairing 16 others, serving 25,000 Afghan students. They have also provided wells; distributed text-books, school supplies and athletic equipment; provided teacher trainings; and set up libraries, computer centers, and PTAs.

Through photos and stories Julia will bring Afghan culture to life and help us to understand how education is a building block to eliminating poverty, oppression and extremism in the developing world and how each of us can personally make a difference.
For more information about Julia and her work see: A group in Olympia has adopted one of the schools. If you would like to support her work and join others in this area as part of “Friends of Zadian School,” please contact Sharon Moore,, 360-866-9010, for information.

The event is sponsored by the Olympia World Affairs Council.