Columbia River Maritime Museum

ABOUT THE COLLECTION

Museum Exhibits

photo by Michael Mathers

The Columbia River Maritime Museum specializes in collecting and exhibiting maritime artifacts from the Columbia River and the Pacific Northwest. The Museum’s collection, made up of artifacts collected since its opening, has grown to more than 30,000 objects, 20,000 photographs, and a 10,000-volume research library. Combined, these resources make the Columbia River Maritime Museum one of the foremost repositories of Pacific Northwest maritime artifacts in the country.

The Columbia River Maritime Museum accepts the donation of artifacts to the collection on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the object’s relevance to the mission of the Museum, its space and preservation requirements and other factors. Find out more about donating an item.

Look for the following special pieces during your visit:

  • a National Historic Landmark vessel, the Lightship Columbia, which was the last active-duty floating lighthouse on the West Coast when it was retired
  • the U.S. Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat 44300, the first in a long line of surf rescue vessels developed for use on the treacherous Columbia River Bar
  • the Pilot Boat Peacock, arguably one of the vessels most significant to the development of commerce in the Columbia basin, second only to the Columbia Rediviva, for which the river was named
  • a model-1841 U.S. Navy officer’s sword and scabbard found buried on Clatsop Spit, and believed to be from the shipwrecked USS Shark that foundered on the Columbia River Bar in 1846
  • a wooden block and chunk of beeswax from a 17th century Manila galleon wrecked on Nehalem Spit (these are the oldest artifacts in the Museum’s collection)

Researchers, scholars and authors from around the world have tapped the informational resources of the Columbia River Maritime Museum. It has also served as a knowledge source for National Geographic, The Sea Hunters, The History Detectives (PBS), Oregon State Parks and Recreation, Oregon Public Broadcasting and the National Park Service.