The Columbia River Gorge is rich with history, both natural and manmade. In that, locals and historians have done their parts in exhibiting and preserving this history, namely through the construction and continued maintenance of beautiful museums. Below are a few of our favorites, all of which, in their own ways, tell the wonderful history of the Columbia River Gorge:
Sam Hill, entrepreneur and railroad executive, had originally intended for this “mansion of oddities” to be his home. Then, his artist friends talked him into establishing the building as a museum. It took many years for it to open to the public, which eventually happened nine years after Hill’s death.
Maryhill caters to everyone – it’s filled with high-end art, eclectic collections and historic artifacts. If those don’t suit you, the museum sits on 5,300 acres, which gives plenty of space for exploring and walking around.
If perhaps it’s too wet to explore the Columbia River Gorge itself, you would do just fine spending a day in its official interpretive center: the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center.
The museum examines 11,000 years of cultural heritage in the area, including multimedia exhibits of historical films, photos, and hundreds of artifacts. There’s also a wildflower database, where visitors can gain a deeper understanding of the plants and vegetation that grow throughout the region.
Not far from the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center is the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, which explores the natural, agricultural and anthropological history of the region. A visit here will give you an immersive experience and a much deeper appreciation for the region and the inhabitants before (which scaled back over thousands of years). With a large selection of equipment and old locomotives on display, this museum also gives great insight into the industrial history of the Gorge.
Just off the coast of Astoria is one of the deadliest areas for shipwrecks in nautical history. The Columbia River Maritime Museum’s films and exhibits paint a vivid picture of the area’s infamous history, giving the viewer an appreciation and admiration for sailors of the past.
It is the official state maritime museum of Oregon and has gained national recognition for its quality of exhibits and collections.
Air and auto fans will be absolutely delighted in this museum – it has an extensive collection of antique airplane and cars, even motorcycles too! Visitors often say it’s one of the best aviation and auto collections they’ve ever seen.
Our only warning – plan plenty of time…some people expect to go for an hour, and end up staying half the day!
The Fort Dalles Museum was originally built as a military outpost, used mostly in battles with Native Americans. Now it’s one of Oregon’s oldest museums, with the building and grounds being just as historic as the contents inside.
Visiting here brings unique insight into life back in the late 1800s, especially if your interest lies in the history of the Oregon Trail.
Even better than the museums we visit are the lecturers that enhance the experience. This education can only be had aboard our Columbia River cruises, which fill up fast and are not available for long. To inquire into booking, contact one of our agents today!