Treasure Hunt: Public Art in Pacific County

May 20, 2024 | Arts

Our majestic scenery is a natural canvas when you visit our neck of the woods. Emerald green forests, indigo oceans, gunmetal skies, white-capped waves, and amber sunsets paint our landscape in a kaleidoscope of colors. But did you know you can embark on a treasure hunt to discover art installations in our region? Wooden sculptures, metal figures, stone carvings, murals, and more decorate our small-town streets and hiking trails. Explore some of the best public art in Pacific County and celebrate the community’s spirit and the natural beauty that inspires it.

The Discovery Trail: A Historical, Oceanside Gallery in Pacific County

Our artistic journey begins on the Discovery Trail, where the fusion of nature and art creates a stunning visual symphony. Stretching 8.5 miles along the coastline from Long Beach to Ilwaco, this trail is a testament to the area’s natural beauty and celebrates its rich history and culture. As an artery in the journey of Lewis and Clark, much of the art in Pacific County pays tribute to that history. The Discovery Trail art installations pay homage to this chapter of the region.

Clark’s Tree Sculpture

2. Art in Pacific County - Clarks Tree

Clark’s Tree sculpture is a striking metalwork that marks the spot where Captain William Clark carved his name on a tree in 1805 during the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The bronze statue stands on a dune at an impressive 20 feet tall. Weathered, wind-swept drama immortalizes it, with long, arched branches forever bent against the gales. This modern interpretation of a historic event connects the present to the past as a reminder of the passage of time and the enduring legacy of exploration. It is one of the most photographed pieces of art in Pacific County.

Captain Clark and Sturgeon Sculpture

Treasure Hunt: Public Art in Pacific County

The idea for the bronze sculptures of Captain William Clark and a 10-foot sturgeon came directly from Clark’s journal. He wrote a tale about discovering the behemoth fish while exploring our sandy coast.

Basalt Monolith

4. Art in Pacific County - Balast Monolith

Steps away, the massive Basalt Monolith, tattooed with multiple quotes from William Clark’s 1805 exploration, contains the original quote Clark wrote about the sturgeon.

Grey Whale Skeleton

5. Art in Pacific County - Grey Whale - credit Danelle Dodds

Image Courtesy of: Danelle Dodds

We enjoy a whale of a tale, and the story of this piece of art in Pacific County is quite an adventure. Once upon a time, a 40-foot, 18-ton majestic grey whale was washed ashore on Long Beach. The town decided to immortalize it as a piece of art but misjudged the process. A wild journey involving hazmat suits and vandals followed. Today, a beautiful wooden carving of a whale pod by local artist Joshua Blewett honors the magical creature. But if you peek in the surrounding dune grass, you’ll see remnants of the original whale bones that mark the art’s storied past.

Condor Sculpture

6. Art in Pacific County - Condor - credit Robyn Unruh

Image Courtesy of: Robyn Unruh

Visit the life-size sculpture of a California condor in Ilwaco. With a 9-foot wingspan and posed on the ribs of a whale, the bird is a replica of one described in the Lewis and Clark journals.

Confluence Project

The Confluence Project is by artist Maya Lin. As the artist behind the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., Lin’s creations honor and respect the fragile history of their subject matter. Her tender care is evident in her treasured collection of art in Pacific County.

7. Art in Pacific County - Confluence - credit Damian Mulinix

Image Courtesy of: Damian Mulinix

Visit the symbolic fish-cleaning table formed from native basalt and inscribed with a Chinook creation story. Walk along a path of crushed oyster shells and read the lyrics of a Chinook praise song. Discover Lewis and Clark’s words from their journals embedded in the boardwalk. Stand at an overlook of Baker Bay and read the words of Lewis and Clark when they finally arrived at their destination. Marvel at the Cedar Circle surrounding a trunk that predates Lewis and Clark’s arrival.

The art along the Discovery Trail is rich with storied history. Bring your curiosity and camera to capture the places where the past meets artistic expression.

Raymond: The Metal Menagerie of Art in Pacific County

Heading north to Raymond, you’ll find a unique artistic expression that adds character to the streets. Known as the “Gateway to the Willapa,” Raymond is like an open-air museum where industrial artistry meets whimsical imagination.

As you drive through the town, a parade of life-sized sculptures made from recycled metal will greet you. These sculptures, created by local artists, depict various subjects—from loggers and fishermen to real and fantastical animals. Each piece is a marvel of creativity and craftsmanship, transforming everyday materials into extraordinary works of art.

8. Art in Pacific County - Raymond Metal Art - credit Walter Dorsett

Image Courtesy of: Walter Dorsett

One of the highlights is the “Logger” sculpture, a towering figure that pays homage to the town’s logging heritage. With a chainsaw in hand and a determined look on his face, this sculpture captures the spirit of the hardworking individuals who helped shape the region’s history.

Another captivating piece is the “Flock of Birds,” where metal birds in mid-flight seem to defy gravity. This dynamic installation adds a sense of movement and vitality to the town, creating a visual dance that delights passersby.

There are over 200 individual metal statues in Raymond. Can you find them all?

Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge: Nature’s Art Walk

Art and nature come together at Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The Art Walk at Cutthroat Creek offers a unique experience where visitors can enjoy the serene beauty of the landscape and the inspiring creations of local artists. The boardwalk trail is less than a mile. Woven into the refuge’s lush foliage, the wooden path blends seamlessly with the natural surroundings.

9a. Art in Pacific County - Willapa Art Walk - credit Danelle Dodds

Image Courtesy of: Danelle Dodds

Immerse yourself in the sounds of croaking frogs, rain-pattered leaves, and babbling brooks. As you wander along the trail, colorful metal replicas of the resident birds grace the pathway of your journey. Oversize feathers of extinct birds, whimsical mushrooms, and birds in flight dot the promenade.

Take the Cutthroat Climb trail for art lovers who enjoy a steep climb. A one-mile loop takes you steeply through the woods into old-growth hemlock and ferns. The climb can be slippery, so be sure to watch your footing. Discover additional art installations and interactive signs as you climb.

Murals of Ilwaco

10. Art in Pacific County - Ilwaco

The portside town of Ilwaco is the intersection of history and rejuvenation. The bubbling art community percolates in a town built on the lineage of the sea. Stroll on the water’s edge and discover the myriad of galleries that showcase the town’s creative makers. On your path, you will come across numerous murals highlighting a community’s love for its heritage. Vibrant displays celebrating fishing, diversity, and ocean folklore await discovery. The magical murals in Ilwaco reveal another side of art in Pacific County.

A Coastline of Creativity

Pacific County, Washington, is a treasure trove of public art that enriches the soul and delights the senses. From the coastal charm of the Discovery Trail to the industrial whimsy of Raymond’s metal sculptures, each piece of art tells a story, celebrates the community, and enhances the region’s natural beauty.

Whether you’re a seasoned art aficionado or a curious traveler, the public art of Pacific County offers a journey of discovery and inspiration. So, pack your walking shoes, bring your camera, and embark on an adventure that promises to awaken your creativity and deepen your appreciation for the art surrounding us all.


Treasure Hunt: Public Art in Pacific County

By: Danelle Dodds

Danelle is an international traveler, road tripper, writer, and artist. She firmly believes in testing the limits of word count, mileage, and AYCE sushi.




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