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Welcome to the Cowlitz County Historical Museum

The museum collects, preserves, and interprets information and artifacts that tell the story of Cowlitz County. The Cowlitz County Historical Museum operates as a partnership between Cowlitz County and the Cowlitz County Historical Society. Formed in 1949, the Society began operating a museum in a space provided by Cowlitz County in 1953. In 1979, the museum relocated to its current location on Allen Street. Museum staff are a combination of Historical Society and County employees. This public-private partnership has benefited our community by making the Cowlitz County Historical Museum an attraction providing quality exhibits, archival research facilities, and engaging educational and public programming.

For information about museum tours, click here.


NEW!!! Download our Mount St. Helens Audio Tour.


A Note from the Director

Welcome to the Cowlitz County Historical Museum! Cowlitz County is a great place to live, with easy access to the ocean, Mount St. Helens, and Portland. Nestled amidst forests and rivers with a mix of rural and urban settings, Cowlitz County provides the best of all worlds. Our county has a rich history tied to the land and its natural resources. From being the “Smelt Capital of the World” to some of the richest groves of old growth Douglas Fir, natural resources play a significant role in our past and present.  Our permanent exhibition, “Cowlitz Encounters,” is regionally and nationally awarded and shares the history of our county, from its first inhabitants, the Cowlitz People, to American settlement, and the growth of the timber industry, both resource extraction and timber products processing. We have over 35,000 objects in our collections and nearly one million images in our archives. These resources are available for research, academic study, and exhibition. I invite you to visit the Cowlitz County Historical Museum where we keep history alive!

~ Joseph Govednik, Museum Director

Become a member of the Cowlitz County Historical Society!


Current Exhibit on Display

Vestiges of the Iron Curtain:
Eastern Germany’s Legacy
in Black and White

Photo by Hans Schaufus

Experience nearly 30 black-and-white photographs featuring landscape and architectural remnants from East Germany. Hans Schaufus, retired Longview Public Library employee, artist, community advocate, and photographer shot the images during multiple visits between 2006 and 2014. Those who wish to meet Hans in person at the gallery may do so on Wednesday, January 26 from noon-1pm at the museum. This remarkable collection of images shows in raw detail the lasting impacts of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) decades after reunification in 1990.  In September 1961 Hans was among 100,000 Army reservists called to active duty for the Berlin Crisis. Although his unit wasn’t sent to Berlin, he decided to visit Berlin in the fall of 1963. Having spent many hours tramping around the walled off Eastern Sector he was awed by the bleak landscape, much of it left over ruins from World War II. This exhibit is on display in our rotating gallery space through March 2022.


In the News

September 13, 2020 Cowlitz County Museum reopens with COVID-19 precautions

August 19, 2020Vote for women’ Local groups mark 100 years of women’s right to vote

May 10, 2020 Cowlitz County Historical Museum seeks local COVID-19 stories

April 4, 2020 Cowlitz museum director: ‘This too shall pass’

August 30, 2019 New Cowlitz Museum exhibit highlights local suffragettes

November 15, 2017 New Historical Museum exhibit explores Cowlitz County’s WWI contributions