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Museums & Historic Sites

Photo by Sarah Day

On the Long Beach Peninsula, history is alive and well. You can explore historic forts, walk in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, wonder over artifacts, and visit two lighthouses each over a century old.

LIGHTHOUSES

The North Head Lighthouse at sunset. Photo by Jace Walker.

North Head Lighthouse

The North Head Lighthouse sits high above the ocean and the rocks near Beard’s Hollow. From the top of these cliffs, you can spot the North Jetty and look down on Benson Beach.

Did you know?

Winds of 120 miles per hour have been recorded at North Head, making it the windiest lighthouse site on the West Coast and the second in the nation. The first head keeper’s wife couldn’t stand the wind and jumped from the cliffs one summer morning…

Learn more about the North Head Lighthouse.

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

The Cape Disappointment Lighthouse is white with black stripes. It overlooks the mouth of the Columbia River, also known as the Graveyard of the Pacific.

Did you know?

In 1853, the first shipment of lighthouse materials sank two miles offshore! Most of the shipment was lost, and this was just the beginning of the difficulties this lighthouse faced.

Learn more about the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. Photo by Sarah Day.

Discover Pass

Washington State Parks like Cape Disappointment, Fort Columbia, and Leadbetter Point require a pass for parking.

Lighthouse Tours

The North Head Lighthouse is currently closed for tours as it undergoes restoration. Check back for updates!

HISTORIC SITES

Middle Village-Station Camp. Photo by Sarah Day.

Walk in the Footsteps of Lewis & Clark

The peninsula has several sites that are part of the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, including Cape Disappointment State Park and Fort Columbia Historic State Park.

Dismal Nitch

On November 5, 1805, a terrible storm pinned the Corps of Discovery in a rocky cove off the Columbia River. They were only a few miles from their destination. But they almost didn’t make it…

Middle Village – Station Camp

The Corps of Discovery spent 10 days here, and Clark used it as a primary survey station as he mapped the mouth of the Columbia River. The Chinook people, who have lived along the Columbia for thousands of years, used this site as a trade village.

Fort Columbia Historic State Park. Photo by Sarah Day.

Military History

Construction began on three forts to protect the mouth of the Columbia River in the late nineteenth century. Now, these coastal defense sites can be explored by visitors. Fort Columbia Historic State Park is considered the most intact, historic coastal defense unit in the United States. The remains of Fort Canby can be found throughout Cape Disappointment State Park.

Seekers of history and abandoned vibes will enjoy exploring both. Pick up maps at the Visitors Bureau or parks.

Clay Street in Oysterville. Photo by Sarah Day.

Oysterville

You may feel as though time forgot this tiny, historic village that sits on Willapa Bay, but the homes and buildings here are lovingly maintained by its residents. The historic homes, church, schoolhouse, and oyster farms were once part of a booming community fueled by the California Gold Rush. Local resident, “Sydney of Oysterville”, keeps an incredible blog detailing the stories and history of the village.

Walking tours are available in the church as well as online. Read the stories behind the homes as you savor the peace and quiet in this sweet little village.

MUSEUMS & INTERPRETIVE CENTERS

Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum

The Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum highlights the history of the Columbia Pacific region with a collection of over 23,000 artifacts, photos, and historic objects. The museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays.

World Kite Museum

The World Kite Museum in Long Beach boasts the most complete collection of Japanese kites outside of Japan, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! From fighting kites to colorful choreography, the history of kites around the globe may surprise you.

Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center

Located high above the ocean surf, this interpretive center takes you along the Corps of Discovery’s journey with a focus on their exploration of the Pacific Coast. A Discover Pass is required for parking.

Cranberry Museum and Demonstration Farm

Discover the history of these tart native berries originally used by Native Americans. Tour the demonstration farm and try the cranberry ice cream available in the gift shop.

Appelo Archives Center

The archive center is home to displays on the area’s history and heritage. Inside you will also find a genealogy corner, library, and a large collection of Finnish books. You can also cozy up in their cafe and bookstore with a hot cup of coffee.

Pacific County Historical Society

The historical society’s collection and archives showcase Pacific County history. They also have a bookstore with an emphasis on Washington and local history as well as several local products. Find them in South Bend.

Northwest Carriage Museum

The carriage museum has 50 historic carriages, buggies, and wagons (and counting!) as well as interesting artifacts on display. They do group tours as well as educational tours. This museum is a must see!

Knappton Cove Heritage Center

Carefully preserved and full of fascinating artifacts from another era, Knappton Cove was once the US Columbia River Quarantine Station, the Columbia River’s “Ellis Island”. Check their season schedule or call to set an appointment.

Willapa Bay Interpretive Center

Once a home to an oyster grower and his family, this interpretive center offers a glimpse into the history of Willapa Bay’s oyster industry, now almost 150 years old. The display was created by artist Nancy Lloyd of Oysterville.

Fort Columbia Interpretive Center

The Fort Columbia Interpretive Center focuses on the fur trade, military community, and exploration of the Columbia. This interpretive center is only open in the summer, but you can visit Fort Columbia Historic State Park anytime of year.

Columbia River Maritime Museum

The Columbia River Maritime Museum is located in Astoria, just across the Columbia River. They have a number of exciting exhibits focused on the dangerous Columbia River Bar known as the Graveyard of the Pacific.

The North Head Lighthouse is Looking Good

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The Clamshell Railroad

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Graveyard of the Pacific

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Visit the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

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How a Pickled Pioneer Ended Up in Pacific County

In 1855, a band of Native Americans descended upon a group of pioneers making their way along the legendary Oregon Trail. The pioneers feared for their...

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