A trip to Astoria would not be complete, without an educational trip to the Columbia River Maritime Museum. This first-class, highly interactive museum shares the story of the Columbia River, including Oregon’s rich history with the fish industry.
The entrance to the museum is filled with cool photo opportunities, such as giant anchors and propellors.
Basic admission was a bargain at only fourteen dollars for adults ( children 6-17 are only five dollars). We had the option, which we declined, to add a 3-D film for five dollars. Also notable, the Columbia River Maritime Museum is a designated “Blue Star Museum,” which offers free admission to active military members and their families.
Admission includes the opportunity to board the Lightship Columbia, a decommissioned vessel that was a former floating lighthouse. We arrived when the museum first opened and we were advised to tour the Lightship Columbia first, as it gets very busy. This was great advice, as we pretty much had the vessel to ourselves.
We were met by a cheerful volunteer, who introduced us to the Lightship Columbia, before allowing us to explore on our own. We were allowed to walk around a majority of the vessel, including the crew quarters. It’s hard to imagine spending weeks at a time in cramped spaces with terrible weather tossing the boat around. I felt seasick just thinking about it!
A U.S. Coast Guard Vessel was parked across from the Lightship Columbia. It was heavily guarded!
Dan took this great picture of ships out in the Columbia River.
The Columbia River Maritime Museum is massive. I absolutely love museums and could have spent all day here. I’m one of those people who likes to read everything. However, my husband is not as much of a museum person. We both compromised and did a speedy, yet thorough tour of the museum.
One of the first things we encountered was this amazing map of the known shipwrecks in the Columbia River. The Columbia is a very treacherous stretch of water.
Among the most memorable exhibits included a section on Oregon during World War Two. There was a very moving exhibit regarding the Obon Society. The Obon Society is non-profit humanitarian organization that is headquartered in Astoria. During WW2, many American soldiers took Japanese flags home as souvenirs. These flags were carried by Japanese soldiers as a token of good-luck, signed with well-wishes from family and friends before the soldiers headed off to war. The Obon Society is collecting flags from American soldiers and trying to return the flags to the families in Japan. The museum had several flags on display that the Obon Society has not been able to trace to a Japanese soldier. These are active cases and if the Obon Society can discover the owner of the flag, it will be mailed to Japan. I was very moved by the mission of the Obon Society and the act of helping families heal that spans both cultural barriers and many generations.
In no particular order, here are some pictures from the Columbia River Maritime Museum.
When I was a kid, my mom loved nautical themed prints. We had one nearly identical to the picture below hanging in my living room.
They were not my aesthetic at all. When my mom died, I dumped what I called our “Shit Pictures.”
We spent about two hours at the Columbia River Maritime Museum, but we could have easily spent double the amount of time. It is really first class with exhibits that will educate both children and adults.
No museum visit would be complete without a stop to the gift shop.
Dan was convinced that I needed this spiffy hat!
But I really wanted the octopus!
We managed to escape the gift shop with zero purchases: a museum miracle!