Washington history comes alive at these museums and historic sites. Visiting these sites will give you insight into how the early peoples of Washington state lived and played.
Anacortes - W.T. Preston
1305 8th Street, Anacortes, WA
Built in 1929 to replace the Swinomish, the W.T. Preston steamboat served as one of Washington’s most famous sternwheelers until 1981. Responsible for clearing the waters of log-jammed rivers, the W.T. Preston enabled the Puget Sound’s tributaries to be navigated for business and traveling purposes. Now recognized as a National Historic Landmark, the Preston is maintained by the Anacortes Museum, and is shown to the public between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. This display allows visitors to recognize the importance of the pioneering vessel, and appreciate the State’s heritage.
Auburn - Neely Mansion
12303 SE Auburn-Black Diamond Rd, Auburn, WA
Seven-year old Aaron Neely crossed the Oregon Trail with his parents in 1853 and settled in what is now Kent. The Neelys were among the earliest settlers in the area and played a major role in its development. By the early 1890s, Aaron was a prominent landowner in the process of designing and constructing the two-story Victorian Classic Revival farmhouse now known as Neely Mansion, completing the project in 1894. The Neely farm consisted of 200 surrounding acres on which he operated a dairy and planted an orchard, portions of which remain today. The Neely Mansion in Auburn features tours by appointment only.
Bellevue – Bellevue Historical Society
2102 Bellevue Way SE Bellevue, WA
Aiming to educate locals and visitors about the history of the Bellevue area, the Bellevue Historical Society preserves local buildings and artifacts. One building is the Winters House, which was built during the early 1900s. The house is now used as a cultural and natural interpretive center, community meeting space and the home of the Bellevue Historical Society.
Black Diamond - Historical Depot Museum
32626 Railroad Avenue, Black Diamond, WA
The Black Diamond Historical Society was formed by a small group who decided to honor the Nation’s Bicentennial by preserving a little bit of America right at home. Many felt a strong concern for the disappearing buildings and artifacts in Black Diamond.
Restoration of the depot began following the formation of the Historical Society in 1976. The group obtained the railroad depot from the City of Black Diamond. It was built around the turn of the century to serve as a depot for the Columbia and Puget Sound and later the Pacific Coast Company. After the depot closed in the ‘30’s, the building was used as a restaurant, a library, a telephone exchange, an office for the water department and a storage shed for the city maintenance.
The Museum was opened on June 6, 1982, in a gala celebration honoring the One Hundredth birthday of Black Diamond. An estimated 3,000 persons attended. Since the opening day the attendance has been rewarding. People from all over the world appear on the guest register.
Chehalis - John R. Jackson House Historic Site
Jacksonville Hwy Chehalis, WA
The John R. Jackson House Historic Site is one of the oldest structures north of the Columbia River. Located on the Jacksonville Highway in Chehalis, WA.
Eatonville - Pioneer Farm Museum/Ohop Indian Village
7716 Ohop Valley Road Eatonville, WA
The Pioneer Farm Museum/Ohop Indian Village features hands-on exhibits that emulate pioneer activities for visitors to enjoy.
Hoquiam - Hoquiam’s Castle
515 Chenault Ave., Hoquiam, WA
This national historical site was built in 1897 by Robert Lytle, a lumber baron. The mansion has been converted into a bed and breakfast and provides tours for the public from 11am-3pm daily, beginning every hour on the hour, lasting approximately 30 minutes.
Mt. Rainier - Longmire
Mt Rainier National Park, WA
This is the park’s oldest developed area, the site of Mineral Spring Resort that James Longmire opened in 1884. After the park was established in 1899, Longmire became the park headquarters. Today the original administrative building houses a museum with exhibits that tell the story of those early days. The National Park Inn, a concession operated hotel, it open year round for guests. The road from the Nisqually Entrance to Longmire is one of the world’s most beautiful forest roads.
Olympia - Bigelow House Museum
918 Glass Avenue Northeast, Olympia, WA
Bigelow House is the oldest residence in Olympia, Washington, and one of the earliest still standing in the Pacific Northwest. Pioneer lawyer and Territorial Legislator Daniel R. Bigelow and his schoolteacher wife Ann Elizabeth White Bigelow built Bigelow House in the 1850s. The Bigelows were pivotal figures in early Washington history and the struggle for women’s rights and public education.
The house is a rare surviving example of the Carpenter Gothic style popular in rural America during the mid-1800s and is still surrounded by more than an acre of the family’s original land claim. The home displays original documents, artifacts, and furnishings representing 150 years of the family’s participation in important causes on the community, state and national levels.
Port Townsend – Manresa Castle
7th & Sheridan, Port Townsend, WA
The Castle was completed in 1892 as the home of Charles and Kate Eisenbeis. Mr. Eisenbeis was a prominent member of the early Port Townsend business community. 1927 the Jesuit priests purchased the building for use as a training college. In 1928, the Jesuits added a large wing housing a chapel and sleeping rooms. They named the complex “Manresa Hall” after the town in Spain where Ignatius Loyola founded the order. The Jesuits left in 1968 and the building was converted into a hotel. The elements “Manresa” and “Castle” were taken from the two previous owners to create the current name. The three different owners since 1968 have all done their part to lovingly renovate the building to modern standards while maintaining its Victorian elegance.
Puyallup - Meeker Mansion
312 Spring Street, Puyallup, WA
The Meeker Mansion in Puyallup is the former home of Ezra Meeker, first mayor of Puyallup and the man responsible for introducing electricity and indoor water to the town.
Ritzville - Ritzville Railroad Depot
The Ritzville Railroad Depot takes visitors back to the days of rail travel, showcasing an original train station, ticket office and waiting rooms.
San Juan Island - San Juan National Historic Park
American Camp Rd and Cattle Point Rd Friday Harbor, WA
The San Juan National Historic Park celebrates the island’s past, and was the site of the ‘Pig War’ that finally determined the island’s ownership. Guests can visit both the American and the English camps, and at the park headquarters there are exhibits focusing on archaeology and the pioneer way of life.
Seattle - Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park- Seattle Unit
117 South Main Street Seattle, WA
In 1897 news of a gold rush in the Canadian Yukon reached Seattle. A flood of people journeyed North, and tens of thousands of people from across the United States and the world came to Seattle’s commercial district. Purchasing millions of dollars worth of food, clothing, equipment, and animals, these entrepreneurs shaped Seattle into the Queen City of the Pacific Northwest as it is known today. The National Historic Park documents the period with a museum, programs, and events.
Seattle - Smith Tower Observation Deck
506 Second Avenue, #1021 Seattle, WA
Built in 1914, the Smith Tower retains its marble paneled Grand Lobby and vintage brass-caged elevators (complete with uniformed operators). The 35th floor outdoor deck surrounds The Chinese Room and provides 360 degree view of the waterfront, Safeco Field, downtown and more. Seattle’s tallest building for 50 years.
Tacoma - Fort Nisqually
5400 North Pearl Street #11, Tacoma, WA
Built by the Hudson’s Bay Trading Company in 1833, Fort Nisqually was the first European settlement on Puget Sound. Step back in time and experience the Fort as it was in the 19th century, with volunteers dressing in period clothing reenacting daily life at the Fort. Hours of operation Jan.1-Mar. 31, Wed-Sun. 11am-4pm; April 1-May 22, Wed-Sun. 11am-5pm.; May 23-Sept. 6, daily 11am-6pm; Sept. 7-Dec. 31, Wed-Sun. 11am-4pm.
Tacoma - Old City Hall
625 South Commerce Street Tacoma, WA
The Old City Hall in Tacoma features an Italian Renaissance clocktower that rings every hour. Located on South Commerce Street.
Vancouver - Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
612 E. Reserve St. Vancouver, WA
The visitor center is open daily beginning May 21st from 9am to 5pm. The reserve includes Vancouver Barracks, Officers’ Row, Pearson Field, The Water Resources Education Center, and portions of the Columbia River waterfront.
Woodland - The Cedar Creek Grist Mill
Grist Mill Road in Woodland along Cedar Creek, fom I-5 take the Woodland exit #21
The Scenery alone around the Cedar Creek Grist Mill makes it worth the trip. It’s like driving into the past. Heavily wooded and a beautiful stream doing the same thing today as it did over a hundred years ago. The soothing sounds of the rushing water may allow the visitors time for reflection of those times. The south side of the creek has four picnic tables to those fortunate enough to lay claim and allow a great view of the stream, the mill and the covered bridge.
Visitors will be greeted and given a “Working Tour” of how this mill still works today. Huge pulleys and belts spinning above and below are turning and churning to produce flour, corn meal and even apple cider (the last Saturday in October). These samples are given to the visitors for take home and a first hand experience of the products. No gas or electricity are used, simply mother nature’s water power. All that work here are volunteers and are more than happy to explain how this process works to any and all. The Cedar Creek Grist Mill is open all year, Saturdays 1:00 to 4:00 and Sundays 2:00 to 4:00.