Channel Point Village offers transportation for Port of Grays Harbor tours
Port of Grays Harbor celebrates 100 years
By Marisa Chatt
The Port of Grays Harbor is celebrating 100 years, and recently hosted tours of its three Aberdeen terminals. The tours were led by Betsy Seidel, a retired Hoquiam teacher of 31 years, Thursday, July 14, with transportation provided by Channel Point Village.
In addition to its centennial, the port is highlighting its success, as well as future plans for expansion and improvement.
The port was first established by Frank Lamb in 1911, who lobbied legislature to create the port act for public access. While Seattle was the first port created in the state, the Port of Grays Harbor was second. Lamb went on to be the longest-running commissioner for 41 years. Years later, his granddaughter would become the port’s first female commissioner in 1998.
The channel to the port is dredged 45 feet down each year by the Army Corp of Engineers, to allow the passage of deep-water ships. The dredged material is then used to fill in the former site of the port, located just off of the main channel.
The port currently has four terminals — Terminal 3 is located in Hoquiam. Additionally, the port also owns Commerce Park (which houses businesses such as Home Depot), Westport Marina, two viewing towers and Bowerman Basin.
Today, there are 74 ports in Washington State — the state with the most ports in the country. And while the port was once the leading export port for U.S. grown timber, it is now the leading export of American-grown soybean meal, and the number one seafood landing point in Washington state, the Port’s website states. Port officials also say that the Port of Grays Harbor is Washington’s only deep water port on the Pacific Coast.
Ag Processing Inc., located at Terminal 2, is the world’s largest cooperative soybean processing company in the world. It is comprised of 250,000 Midwest farmers. Seidel says plans are in the works to build two additional 280-foot silos (the current ones are 140 feet tall), tripling the amount of soybean output.
Other businesses that are housed at the port’s Aberdeen terminals include Longbeach Shavings, which packages wood shavings used for horse racing stalls and pet cages.
PanelTech is a “green” company that makes counter tops and siding from sawdust and resin. Additionally, they make a bulletproof board used in the bottom of military vehicles currently being used in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Imperium Grays Harbor, a biodiesel plant, has nine large tanks which hold 2 million gallons each, and imports methanol,while exporting biodiesel. The company uses both rail and ship transportation.
Dahlstrom exports logs to China and Korea, some of it de-barked, and Willis Enterprises sends a barge of chips a week out of the Harbor. Additionally, Decorum sends debarked logs to China.
Pasha Group, one of the port’s newest tenants, exports vehicles (sent in from Detroit) to post-tsunami Japan. It also imports rental cars from Enterprise in Hawaii that have been retired after 30,000 miles to ship by rail to other states for sale.
The port was recently used by Cosmo Specialty Fiber to export its first shipment of pulp. The ship Gearbulk left itsport for China just as the first tour of the day was making its rounds around the terminals.
The port is adding 36,000 feet of rail to accommodate the growing need for more access to rail cars used by multiple rail companies.
Last year the port announced exports had increased 85 percent, posting record year of dry bulk and automobile exports that brought in more than 100 vessels. Just five years prior, the port saw a total of only 19 vessels for the year, officials said. “As we begin celebrating our 100th year as a port district, increasing export cargo handling and creating local jobs are priorities we will continue to focus on,” Port Commission President Jack Thompson said. “As our partners continue to invest in our facilities, we will focus our investments on public infrastructure that strengthens their competitive global position, therefore strengthening our community and country.”
For those who missed the tour, there’s another opportunity Tuesday, Aug. 23. Four separate tour times of 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 5:30p.m. require reservations. Space is limited, call the port at (360) 533-9528 for more information or to reserve a seat.