The Ilwaco Heritage Museum celebrates its 21st year during 2003. From humble beginnings as a one-room display of local historical items, the museum has grown to be one of Pacific County's major cultural resources, and one most any community in the state would be proud to claim.

Contrary to some expectations, the Ilwaco Museum is not just about the heritage of the town of Ilwaco. Its mission and exhibits cover the major historical developments of the Columbia Pacific region, encompassing the lower Columbia River and adjacent coastlines of southwest Washington and northwest Oregon. As it happens, some of the most fascinating history of the American West has taken place in these environs.

The Ilwaco Heritage Museum features four thematic galleries and a historic depot from the Ilwaco Railroad & Navigation Company narrow gauge line that served the Peninsula from 1889 to 1930. Subjects covered include Chinookans of the lower Columbia, exploration and settlement of the region by non-natives, with a special emphasis on the 18 days Lewis and Clark spent in Pacific County during November 1805, life in an old-time seaside village, the estuary of the lower Columbia, and the adventures of Gerard d'Aboville, who rowed across the Pacific from Japan to Ilwaco in 1991.

Scheduled to arrive during 2003 is a restored narrow gauge passenger car that once served on the Peninsula. The old Pullman Palace will be a perfect compliment to the historic depot in the museum courtyard.

The museum store offers a selection of books on regional subjects and an assortment of gift items. A research library and archive of historic photographs is open and available to the public by appointment. The Gallery Martquilly at the museum is a spacious art gallery that features the work of local artists, along with rotating special and traveling exhibitions.

During the second weekend in October each year, the Ilwaco Heritage Museum sponsors the annual Cranberrian Fair, in cooperation with the World Kite Museum and the Cranberry Museum.

Ilwaco Heritage Museum: Located at 115 S.E. Lake Street in Ilwaco, across the street from the post office, one block south and a half block east of the stoplight on U.S. 101 in Ilwaco. The museum is operated as a non-profit institution by the Ilwaco Heritage Foundation.

Hours: Summer hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. Winter hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday; closed on Sundays.

Phone: (360) 642-3446.

Admission: Adults, $3; senior citizens (55 and over), $2.50; youths (11-17), $2; children (6-12), $1; under 6 free. Museum members receive free admission and discounts on purchases at the museum store.

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