The well-oiled machine that we now call the Chehalis-Centralia airport was nothing but a 600 acre farm, owned by the Donahoe family, before a portion of it was developed and sold to the Lewis County back in 1927. Not much happened on this piece of land until the dedication of an airstrip and the Riverside golf course on May 21, 1927. Before the dedication, Paul Donahoe constructed an Aircraft maintenance facility which consisted of and office and a hangar and cleared the area to make way for a turf runway.
In 1928 the airport acquires 50 additional acres to its original 44 for the future development of the property. One year later the Federal Government recognizes Chehalis-Centralia Airport as one of “The Best in the West.”
Just before World War II, Lewis County joined with the city of Chehalis in joint ownership of the land which then became know as the City-County Airport. At this time the airport managed 95 acres of land and would later purchase more than 200 surrounding the airport.
During WWII, the government temporarily took control of the airfield and used it for a training facility along with an area for diversion in case of an emergency. Within this time period, the government spent $798,799 for the development of two 5,000 foot runways, dikes and a drainage system. After the war, the county-city board resumed control and the first commercial service began with a scheduled carrier called West Coast Airlines. West Coast Airlines provided service until its cancellation in 1958. Shortly after, the airport was annexed to the city of Chehalis.
The instrumental Airport Board, that is still used today, was organized in 1961 and Centralia becomes a partner. 31 years later an updated plan closes runways 1-19 due to extreme buckling to its surface. In 1983 Medium Intensity Runway Lighting System (MIRL) was installed on Runway 15-33. Not until 1993 does the Airport agree to a 15.7 acre ground lease with Wal-Mart. CCA Retail and Home Depot follow producing much of the airports revenue.
The airport has recovered beautifully from 2007s flood and currently has 92 based air craft with annual operations at nearly 48,000. There are 10 conventional hangers and 48 tee hangers and recently a project for a runway viewing area was completed for the family to come and enjoy the air traffic on the south east side of the field. Everyday the airport administration is working to improve the 425 acres of property it manages.