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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.

Members take pride in the knowledge that they are the key to the museum’s
ongoing mission of collecting, preserving and interpreting our history.

Cowlitz County logo

Membership includes:

·  Subscription to the Cowlitz Historical Quarterly

·  Receive the Society’s Newsletters

·  10% discount on all items in our Museum Store

·  Invitation to the annual membership meeting with dinner provided

·  20% discount on custom printed photos from our collection


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


Download our Mount St. Helens Audio Tour.


In the News

August 22, 2023 – For nearly a decade, WA state museums couldn’t’ accept forearms. A state senator and Cowlitz County museum changed that.

July 21, 2023Longview native writes historical book on planned city

June 17, 2023Cowlitz County Museum looks back to 1923 with new centennial exhibit

May 23, 2023Cowlitz County historical museum lecture explores Civil War letters

March 10, 2023Longview centennial events

April 8, 2022 Columbian Artists Association’s 44th Annual Spring Art Show award winners work on display at Cowlitz County Historical Museum in Kelso

April 1, 2022Cowlitz County juvenile center adds artwork to create welcoming space

January 28, 2022 Cowlitz County Historical Museum plans state-funded project to expand collection space

July 3, 2021Mount St. Helens audio tour launched by Cowlitz County Historical Museum

January 5, 2021 ‘History in the making’: historical committee, museum ask for COVID-19 stories

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