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Washington State Historic Sites

While in Olympia, why not stop at the Old Capital Building? Erected in 1892, this historic building, featuring a 150-foot octagonal clock tower, serves as one of the oldest historical sites in Washington state. Having survived a fire and an earthquake, the Old Capitol Building continues to serve the people of Washington as the office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Experience a stroll through a storied pioneer past in the Ritzville Historical District in the eastern region of Washington. Four blocks are dedicated to the preservation of buildings from 1889-1920 including the Victorian Burroughs home. The home contains a collection of original furniture, and vintage clothing along with some turn-of-the-century reproductions. Down the street, the Ritzville Railroad Depot and Carnegie Library provide additional artifacts. Learn why Ritzville was the shipping center for wheat during this boom time.

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site played an important role as an outpost for civilization in the Pacific Northwest. Developed by the Hudson Bay Company from 1825 to 1846 it helped establish lucrative trade and expansion of the territory. Reconstructed buildings include the Chief Factor’s House, bakery and blacksmith. Adjacent to the fort, Pearson Field is one of the oldest airfields that still operates in the US.

Cape Disappointment Light

First lit in 1856, Cape Disappointment Light is a historic lighthouse located on the Washington Coast in the southwestern corner of the state. Standing at 53 feet, the brick, conical Cape Disappointment Light features a fourth order Fresnel lens, and was automated in 1973 – and first electrified in 1937.

Found along the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean coast on the Long Beach Peninsula, the lighthouse is set within the Cape Disappointment State Park in Ilwaco – set less than two hours west of Kelso and Interstate 5.

Formerly Fort Canby State Park, Cape Disappointment State Park covers 1,882 acres, and also features hiking, beaches, another light house, and an interpretive center.

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Encompassing 194 acres near Vancouver, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site preserves the southwest Washington's first military post, and acts as a premier archaeological site.

In 1824, Fort Vancouver operated as a fur trading outpost by the British Hudson's Bay Company, as well as the center of the community with the first school, hospital, and sawmill.

Visit the fort today to see the cultural demonstrations, archaeology digs and National Park Service ranger-led talks. The Lantern Tour in the evening is one of the more popular guided programs.

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

Established by President Reagan in 1982, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument encompasses over 110,000 acres near Kelso in southwest Washington.

The monument was the first to be managed by the U.S. Forest Service, though the site is now operated by the National Park Service. Visit the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake, to learn more about the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.

Visitors to the monument travel the four-mile Windy Ridge to the northeast side of the crater. From there, enjoy the views of Spirit Lake, as well as a first-hand look at the volcano's destruction and gradual recovery of the land. Mountain climbers are also permitted to climb to the summit of the volcano for a bird's-eye view of the crater.

Ritzville Historic District

Create an agenda for your next visit to the Pacific Northwest and head for Washington. In the eastern region of WA discover the city of Ritzville, where you'll be treated to a charm and warmth found only within the Ritzville Historic District. Encompassing nearly three blocks of the main business district in downtown Ritzville, the historic district is an ideal destination for families, couples, and business travelers.

Don't miss out on the Frank R. Burroughs Home Museum, built in 1889. It was 1987 when Ritzville refurbished the home and turned it into a living museum. Also on your tour of the Ritzville Historic District, be sure to visit the Northern Pacific Railroad Depot Museum, and the Heavy Metal Tour, which highlights some sculptures crafted from iron and other pieces of metal.

Whitman Mission National Historic Site

Found near the southeastern Washington town of Walla Walla, the Whitman Mission National Historic Site preserves the scene of the Whitman Mission at Waiilatpu. After tragic yet historic events took place at the mission in the mid 1800s, the site was named a National Historic Site in 1963 in memorial.

Today, the site houses a visitor center, small museum, and the gravesites of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman. Visitors can also view the Whitman memorial obelisk and the original Whitman Mission site while taking in one of the frequent Ranger Programs.