Olympia to Mary’s Corner
- Distance: 46 miles
- Routes: Old Highway 99
- Estimated Driving Time: 1 hour
Thickets of alder and willow grow in the low spots; on higher ground are evergreen firs, standing singly or in clumps. The country gradually alters into the broad, fertile valleys of the Chehalis River walled about by hills. Oak and hazel appear, and the highway acquires sweeping curves as it climbs through forests, then descends again into river valleys. This section, less thickly populated than the northern country, not only contributes to Puget Sound commerce, but is also a tributary to Grays Harbor on the ocean coast. Grain, truck farming, and dairy products flow both northeast and southwest; mines of lignite and coal and deposits of clay diversify the valley’s economy.
Along the southeastern margin of the Puget Sound, in an area that is known as the Puget Lowland, there are still significant coal resources. The largest mine in the state is operated by PacifiCorp Electric Operations and is located near the city of Centralia; large open pits produce 4.5 to 5.1 million tons of coal annually.