Military and maritime history buffs, take note! Fort Columbia State Park is considered one of the most intact historic coastal defense sites in the U.S.
Constructed between 1896 and 1903, renovated during World War II and de-commissioned in 1947, this day-use park on Chinook Point near the mouth of the Columbia River will take you back to the early 20th Century.
Fort Columbia’s small size and the historic integrity of its buildings give visitors an intimate feel for what life must have been like during its active years. Stroll amidst officers’ homes, artillery batteries and two 6-inch, rapid-fire, World War II-era disappearing guns that are among six still in existence. The guns were transferred to the park in 1993 from a U.S. Naval facility in Newfoundland. Peruse the park’s interpretive center for artifacts, photos and stories about exploration, the fur trade and the military community on the Columbia.
In addition to its historical significance, the area offers bird watching, miles of forested hiking trails and secluded beaches. Two of the restored buildings are available for rent; these vacation houses are perfect for family reunions and retreats.
Fort Columbia Historical State Park is a 617-acre day-use historical park located within Lewis and Clark National Historical Park. The park sits along 6,400 feet of freshwater shoreline on the Columbia River. Chinook Point, the setting of this historic fort, is within the accustomed territory of the Chinook Indian Nation and is designated as a National Historic Landmark for its historical significance over three centuries.
The park has 25 unsheltered picnic tables, available first come, first served.
5 miles of hiking trails
Other activities & features
The park offers a self-guided interpretive historic walk with information on various fort features and site history. Interpretive panels near the gun batteries include historic photos and blueprints.
The Interpretive Center focuses on Fort Columbia's history, including the topics of early exploration, fur trade, and westward settlement. The Fort Columbia Interpretive Center is open daily July 1 - Sept 5, from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
The Commanding Officer’s Historic House, is filled with era-appropriate furnishings and provides interpretation on the history related to the former house occupants. The house is currently closed.
A World War II gun emplacement, Battery 246 at Fort Columbia, served as a Washington State Department of Civil Defense Emergency Operating Center from
1960 - 1970. Tours at no charge are offered during July and August, Friday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Tours are provided on a first-come, first-served basis, with a capacity of 10 per tour. Tours are offered at the beginning of the hour, and the half-hour, with the last tour at 3:30 p.m. For additional information, please call (360) 642-3029.
As one of the few intact coastal defense sites in the U.S., Fort Columbia has the most intact collection of historic buildings of all Washington state parks. Fort Columbia was built from 1896 to 1904 as one of the harbor defenses of the Columbia River and constructed on the Chinook Point promontory because of the unobstructed view of the Columbia River. It was off this point that Robert Gray anchored and named the river for his ship, Columbia Rediviva. Nearby the point was the Chinook Indian Nation village of Nose-to-ilse, and later the station camp for the Lewis and Clark expedition bivouacked on the point during the Corps of Discovery exploration.
For the duration of three wars, Fort Columbia was fully manned and operational. Declared a surplus at the end of World War II, the fort transferred to the custody of the state of Washington in 1950 and was then designated as a state park. Twelve historic wood-frame buildings and four coastal defense batteries still stand on the premises.