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What’s the Deal With: Old Town’s big red wheel?

G-P machinery to become part of city's Heritage Trail

An old Georgia-Pacific log chipper sits on the corner of Holly and E streets Monday
An old Georgia-Pacific log chipper sits on the corner of Holly and E streets Monday
By Jaya Flanary Digital Editor/Designer

On the corner of Holly and E streets in Bellingham’s Old Town sits a big red wheel with four slits and no signage indicating what it is. Or, rather, what it used to be.

It is one of two remaining log chippers — or chipper wheels — from Georgia-Pacific, a pulp and tissue mill that shut down operations in the early 2000s. The second chipper is located near Waypoint Park.

The 175-inch wheel, with a 1,500 horsepower motor, turned a “40-inch diameter log into wood chips at a speed greater than a foot per second” according to the city’s Heritage Trail Concept Plan for the waterfront district.

The Holly Street chipper, which currently lives on land recently sold by the Parberry family, will not be incorporated into the trail. Instead, the 70,000-pound wheel will be moved across the street to a new “courtyard plaza” outside The Helen Loggie Museum of Art, along with an old streetcar that is currently in storage, Parberry Inc. CEO Kevin Moore said.

The 2018 Heritage Trail plan details how the city intends to redevelop the waterfront by using salvaged pieces from the mill — including the Waypoint Park chipper — “to help tell the rich industrial history of the waterfront” and connect the waterfront to other neighborhoods and parks.

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