The Columbia River Maritime Museum is a jewel in the North Coast crown, attracting 150,000 visitors a year. The Museum is home to the largest collection of Pacific Northwest maritime artifacts in the country.
Founded in 1962, the museum’s Astoria campus includes the Barbey Maritime Center, which offers classes and demonstrations of skills relevant to the maritime culture of the Columbia River. The Lightship Columbia, a National Historic Landmark, is docked outside and open for tours. The vessel served as a floating lighthouse from 1951 to 1980. The other prominent vessel is the Bar Pilots’ boat, the Peacock, which was taken out of the water and positioned at the east entrance in 2011.
The extensive display of artifacts and exhibits seek to capture interactive experiences that honor the people who earn their living or protect the safety of mariners on the rugged coast, most especially the U.S. Coast Guard and the Columbia River Bar Pilots.
One such is “Crossing the Bar: Perilous Passage,” which shows such authentic scenes of winter storms, with waves of 40 feet or more, that you almost feel like you’re getting soaked just watching it. Another, a cannon from the USS Shark, highlights the history of an artifact from an 1846 shipwreck found by a beachcomber. Other exhibits help preserve the history of fish canning on the waterfront and look back at the discovery of the Columbia River itself.