Willapa Seaport Museum

 Posted by at 12:15 am  Nick's Blog
May 152024

Here is a repost of a blog from our days as fulltime RVers. 

We never know what we’re going to find when we go out exploring a new area, or even one that we’ve been to many times before. But we always try to give ourselves plenty of time and keep our options open just in case we stumble upon something we didn’t know existed.

A good example was the Willapa Seaport Museum in Raymond, Washington. We went to Raymond to visit the excellent Northwest Carriage Museum and discovered a hidden gem right next door in the Seaport Museum. The small museum is filled with all kinds of artifacts from the region’s logging industry and shipbuilding days.

And while the museum may not be all that large in size, the amount and variety of things on display is simply amazing. Everywhere you look, in nooks and crannies, tucked away in alcoves, and hanging from the ceiling are displays that tell the story of Raymond and Willapa Bay.

We discovered something new in every corner of the crowded museum, including treasure from the 1622 wreck of the Spanish ship Atocha and displays on the Native Americans who have lived here for hundreds of years, as well as displays on the Army’s Spruce Division, responsible for furnishing wood for World War I airplanes. Along with the many interesting items in the exhibits are historic documents that tell their story.

Always a center for logging and fishing, Raymond, on the shore of Willapa Bay, was involved in building fishing boats and commercial ships for many years, and during World War I turned out a number of wooden-hulled ships that were used in anti-submarine warfare. Displays in the museum tell the story of the warships and fishing vessels built here, and the impact of shipbuilding on the local economy. There are also several paintings on display that reflect the flavor of the museum.

Southwest Washington played a role in other wars, and displays in the museum include swords, flintlock pistols, and other weapons from the War of 1812. The display includes a commission signed by President James Madison certifying Robert Barton as a US Navy surgeon. There are also coins made from the propeller of Commodore Dewey’s flagship USS Olympia at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War.

The Coast Artillery, US Revenue Service, Lighthouse Service, US Life Saving Service, and Coast Guard are also represented with exhibits and displays, as are the Navy and Marine Corps.

The centerpiece of the museum is the original wheelhouse from the FV Vansee, a 100 year old halibut schooner that still work’s Alaska’s fishing waters.

Logging has always been an important part of the economy of the Pacific Northwest, and the museum displays chainsaws, sawmill equipment, a steam donkey, and other artifacts and memorabilia of the men who supplied the timber that helped build America.

Like many small town museums, things are informal here. You are welcome to take your time and discover things that most will overlook in a quick pass through. Things like a high-wheel bicycle, an ancient outboard motor, photographs and more that tell the story of life here on Willapa Bay. When you visit, give yourself that time and don’t make the mistake of giving the museum a quick look and moving on down the highway, because there is so much to see here that you will never know all of the things that you missed.

The Willapa Seaport Museum is located at 310 Alder Street in Raymond, and is open Tuesday – Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is by donation and there is plenty of parking nearby. For more information, call (360) 942-4149.

Thought For The Day – 90% of being married is just shouting “What?” from other rooms.

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  One Response to “Willapa Seaport Museum”

  1. Beautiful area of Washington state. We are from Blaine WA.

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