The Cowlitz County Historical Society, a non-profit organization, was founded in 1949 for the discovery, preservation, and spreading the knowledge about the history of the county and Washington. The society met quarterly, and by its second year was displaying pioneer artifacts in exhibit cases in the courthouse. In 1953, the society was given the use of the third floor in the courthouse annex to be a museum space. They began publishing the Cowlitz Historical Quarterly in 1959. In 1979, under the direction of our first trained director, we acquired a county building. A lease was signed in 1992; the county provides the building.
In 1999, a new mission statement was adopted: The Cowlitz County Historical Museum celebrates, with our many citizens and visitors, the evolving cultural heritage of the people of the Lower Columbia region. Through dynamic, informative interpretations and personal stories of our history, we honor the community’s memory of the past and prepare for the future together.
We believe that an understanding of our community’s history is important. It provides a long-term perspective on challenges and opportunities, and helps us understand how decisions in the past impact us today. History is used to both stimulate dialog on contemporary issues and serve as a foundation for addressing these issues. The Cowlitz County Historical Museum is not a closed circle; history is a conversation with our community about who we were, are, and can be.