Re: Hooker Chemical, Tacoma

Chuck Soule

Tacoma's Hooker facility was actually built in the 1920s, before the Bonneville Power Administration era, because Tacoma had a very aggressive public utility dept. that built several dams for power supply, so they had cheap electricity (same reason Hooker's NY plant was next to Niagara Falls).   It was still in service in the very late 1990s when I toured it, but under a new owner.  The time slider on Google Earth shows that it was demolished about 2009. 

Regarding the views across Hylebos Waterway (tidal, not a river), there were a good number of houses on pilings or bulkheaded fill between Marine View Drive and the waterway.  There are still a few, but it is more commercialized now.  There have long been marinas and log rafts.  In the early 1950s, my Dad had a sailboat, and in the winter he would have it hauled out of the water at one of those marinas, leaving it on land all winter, and cleaning/painting the hull while it was out.  I was so young I barely remember it.

Regarding the picture of the panorama view, it was not taken at Pt. Defiance, but rather at the northern end marine view drive.  The road north of Hooker winds up the steep hillside, and there are a couple of pullout viewpoints (as well as the excellent Cliff House restaurant).

if you go to Google Earth (lat 47.286 lon -122.4042) you can still see the semicircular tracks.  Timeslide back to a good photo in 2002,  and you can still see structures.  Chlorine was loaded into tank cars next to the small buildings at the NW corner, in the bend of the Northwesterly  "snap track" curve.  Caustic Soda was loaded at the easterly corner of the property. 

If I remember correctly from the tour I took 20 years ago, Occidental made chlorinate chemicals at or next to the SE side of the plant.  To this day, there is a significant environmental cleanup issue, which I believe is more significant at the OxyChem side of the plant than associated with the original chlorine manufacturing area.  The overall residual environmental issues are a major part of why the entire site is currently vacant.

The model at the PSMRE layout at Washington State History Museum is tucked way in the back from the viewing public in a corner.  There wasn't a lot of room for Bill to build the model, so he basically did the main square 2-story brick building of the original plant and the one-story building where the tank cars were loaded.  Another club member painted the backdrop behind it to show the large stockpile of salt.  There was a lot of selective compression needed in that part of the layout, so we concentrated on creating the general tideflats atmosphere.

Chuck Soule

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