WTD?

What's the Deal With: Those big boulders on trailers?

Massive rocks quite a sight in Bellingham
July 13, 2022 at 5:15 a.m.
A tractor-trailer hauls a large basalt boulder through downtown Bellingham in June. This unusual cargo has been a regular sight on city streets over the past several months.
A tractor-trailer hauls a large basalt boulder through downtown Bellingham in June. This unusual cargo has been a regular sight on city streets over the past several months. (Ron Judd/Cascadia Daily News)

By RALPH SCHWARTZ
Staff Reporter

You may have seen them moving along Whatcom County highways or dwarfing the Priuses and Subarus parked along Bellingham's North State Street: massive boulders chained to flatbed tractor-trailers displaying “oversize load” signs. 

Those rocks are too big for your neighbor's landscaping job. They're too big for just about everything, for that matter. Who could possibly need that many giant slabs of basalt? Where did they come from?

The Port of Bellingham tells us the boulders are being loaded onto barges at Bellingham Shipping Terminal and floating south, all the way to the mouth of the Columbia River. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is on the last leg of a seven-year overhaul of three crucial jetties, built decades ago to make for smooth sailing as vessels enter the Columbia from the Pacific Ocean. The South Jetty is the last of three undergoing repairs, and it will be completed next year.

The boulders barging out of Bellingham arrive from quarries in Whatcom and Skagit counties, Port officials said. One rock weighs anywhere from eight to 35 tons, which is why you often see them transported only one at a time. 


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