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by Re Carroll
Abbotsford, British Columbia
August 24, 2001
The first exhibit as you enter the museum is about lighthouses, particularly the offshore Tilamook Rock Light Station, nicknamed Terrible Tilly. Men died during its hazardous construction in 1881. There is also a full size Fresnel lens, the kind used in lighthouses, as well as beacons, buoy lights and lots of black and white pictures from the early 1900s.
There are many displays on naval ships, including the USS Missouri, the most technically advanced battleship of its time and the last to sail on the open ocean before being replaced by aircraft carriers.
There are some fun hands-on exhibits. You can spell out your name according to ship signals or take over a helm (wheel) and pretend to steer a ship. Also, the many models, especially the ships in glass bottles, will keep the kids entertained for awhile - how'd they get that ship into that little bottle anyway?
The highlight of the scrimshaw display is a large ostrich egg, fully covered with intricate drawings. Close to that is a large mural of colourful old labels from tins of salmon.
I liked the old fashioned diving suit, complete with round helmet.
This musuem is extremely well laid out and the gift shop has a good selection of fun and educational toys, books, games, videos, etc. as well as pretty pastel coloured glass net floats.
Your ticket also entitles you to visit the Lightship Columbia, at the dock behind the main museum building. Lightships were basically floating lighthouses, anchored offshore in places where is was too dangerous or expensive to build a permanent structure. The Columbia was the last active lightship on the west coast and was anchored six miles off the entrance to the Columbia River. It was built in 1952 and decommissioned in 1979. Rotating crews of 8 to 10 men lived aboard and you can tour their quarters as well as the stainless steel galley. It paid to be an officer during that time since they had a small private bathroom and their beds were equipped with side rails to make sure they didn't fall out in rough weather. The general crew had to take their chances and hold on to whatever they could find.
The museum and lightship is open daily from 9:30 am until 5:00 pm. Admission is $5.00 and is good for all day use.
From journal Astoria Adventures
January 21, 2001
From journal Stopping in Astoria
July 1, 2000
From journal Across the Border from Washington State