In focus: ‘Speeders’ take to the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad


If you thought you saw railcars, or speeders, at railroad crossings along the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad and Museum’s tracks Thursday, you thought right.

Eighteen railcars chugged 9 miles along the railway from the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad and Museum’s station and back twice.

Members of the Pacific Railcar Operators (PRO) and North American Railcars Association (NARCOA), a nonprofit organization, travel around with the group to different railroads across the Pacific Northwest. PRO is a NARCOA affiliate and the newest railcar club in the West, according to a news release.

“Railroad motorcars or ‘speeders’ were used by the railroads to inspect the many miles of track for defects and to handle track maintenance. Speeders have been phased out by the railroads in favor of Hy-Rail Vehicles. Railfans bought the scrap speeders and organized NARCOA in the mid 1980’s,” according to the news release.

“It’s a fun hobby,” event organizer Richard Wilkins said. “I’m retired from the railroad and, if you grow up in a railroad family, you kind of lean toward that … I sort of fell right into it.”

Railfans like Dorothy Roberts, of Jefferson, Oregon, customized her railcar to be purple with a purple pinwheel on the front and named it “The Betsy.”

“It’s like a railroad motorcar family,” Roberts said as she went around hugging other operators.

After the Mt. Rainier Scenic railroad excursion on May 17, they will head out on the Mount Hood railroad on May 21.

Learn more about the PRO at

For more information on NARCOA, visit