Columbia River Maritime Museum
Scott Gese


There are several maritime museums in Oregon, but the Columbia River Maritime Museum, located in the northern seaside town of Astoria, has been designated the states “official” maritime museum.

It was the first museum in Oregon to meet national accreditation standards and as many will attest, the quality, depth and scope of its collections and exhibits along with its 10,000 volume research library, easily qualify it as one of the finest maritime museums in the nation as well as one of the foremost repositories of Pacific Northwest maritime artifacts in the country.

Columbia River Maritime Museum EntranceColumbia River Maritime Museum Entrance

The Columbia River Maritime Museum is also a research library

The research library has been used by such notables as National Geographic, PBS History Detectives, OPB, the Sea Hunters and the U.S. National Park Service.

The 45, 000 square foot museum does an outstanding job of combining history with modern interactive technology which will make a visit to the Columbia River Maritime Museum more enjoyable for both you and your kids.

The history portion of the museum includes six galleries holding a collection that totals over 50,000 objects and photographs from the rich maritime history of the Columbia river and Pacific Northwest.

The exhibit portion includes a life size diorama of a U.S. Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat, and the pilot boat Peacock, which crossed the bar over 35,000 times.

life size diorama of a U.S. Coast Guard Motor Lifeboatlife size diorama of a U.S. Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat

 Try your hand a piloting a tugboat

The modern interactive part would include a display identifying past shipwrecks at or near the mouth of the Columbia River, a film that highlights the dangers of crossing the Columbia River bar, which incidentally, has the dubious distinction of being known as the “Graveyard of the Pacific.”

There's also a simulator where you can try your hand at piloting a tugboat, or climb upon the bridge of the WWII-era destroyer USS Knapp. The Knapp served in both WWII and Korea.

There are several monitors on display that show actual conditions faced by crews as they battle 40 foot waves created by storm surges pushing against the flow of the river. There are also many recorded stories of actual Coast Guard rescues.

Your entrance into the museum includes a tour of the now retired floating Lightship Columbia. It was the last active-duty floating lighthouse on the West Coast. The ship was stationed five miles off the coast and is now moored dockside adjacent to the museum. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

Retired floating Lightship ColumbiaRetired floating Lightship Columbia

Be prepared to spend several hours exploring, learning and gaining a fascinating glimpse into the history of Astoria and the Columbia River Bar, dubbed the worlds “Most Dangerous Bar to Cross”. Exploring the Columbia River Maritime Museum will be time well spent. You'll gain a whole new respect for the sailors and bar pilots who patrol these most treacherous waters.

Learn more here>> Columbia River Maritime Museum


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