Here are a few of the discoveries you could make at nine of our state’s small-town museums.

• Interactive exhibit on Japanese internment on the island during World War II
• Large Native American exhibit
• Shipping history, including exhibits and pieces of boats and ferries
• Video and other displays examining the timber industry
• Berry farming
• Audio exhibit of women rediscovering their lost Filipino heritage

Cover story: Nothing captures a small town’s character, soul and past like its museum — but their futures face serious modern-day perils

The Backstory: Small-town museums exhibit uncommon devotion in an era of historic challenges

• Features official documents describing the famous grounding of a nuclear sub off its shores April 30, 1988
• Original wooden benches from historic ferries
• Examination of original local schools that closed after the island’s only bridge was built
• Acheson Cabin, built in 1909 by the family of Lila Acheson Wallace who, with her husband, later founded Reader’s Digest
• Former Gov. Dixy Lee Ray documents, news coverage, personal items and photos; she was a longtime Fox Island resident.

• Exhibit examining Fort Nisqually, the first white settlement in Puget Sound, founded and operated by the Hudson’s Bay Company
• A company town in three distinct eras: Hudson’s Bay Company, DuPont and Weyerhaeuser
• Dynamite and black powder exhibits
• Hudson’s Bay blanket
• Detailed exhibits of Native American tribes, valuable baskets old and new
• Exhibit for the famed Wilkes Expedition, the explorer (United States Navy Lieutenant Charles Wilkes) who stationed himself here and mapped out the Puget Sound region, later started The Smithsonian
• Restored narrow-gauge train that hauled explosives to the waterfront
• Maps to walking trails following the path of the Powder Trains to the waterfront, where remnants of the shipping pier are still visible


• Samples of coal rocks
• Map showing the path of Black Diamond immigrants from Wales, Italy and elsewhere
• Celebration of Black Diamond’s Welsh heritage
• The lantern from the town’s first hearse
• Miner’s hat, lanterns, picks and more
• Antique sawmill
• A re-created train ticket booth
• Sweeping outdoor memorial to lives lost in the mines, plus a 20-foot statue
• Restored railroad engine
• Tours of local coal mines, the last of which closed in 1975

• Hidden in several locked rooms located behind the staff offices in City Hall
• Displays an actual 100-year-old jail cell
• Has a 1918 book “The Boys of Whitman County,” remembering all the young local men killed in World War I
• Flip-through books examining several historic events
• Exhibit of the Steptoe Massacre, aka The Battle of Pine Creek

• Main room is located behind the library; also has a spillover area in the basement.
• Several 100-year-old horse-drawn carriages and sleighs
• Farm implements that predate the motorized engine
• Conductor’s hat
• Vintage sign from Baptist church
• Letterman sweaters and jackets from the local high school
• Large selection of family letters
• Memorabilia from local hotels and bars long since torn down

• Has a series of vintage John Deere tractor operating manuals
• Original book of plats in Whitman County indicating which families owned or homesteaded plots of land
• Upright piano owned by pioneer family

• Began as the town’s newspaper office
• Features several vintage printing presses; many still work.
• Original copies of local newspapers dating to 1880

• Fully restored, ornate mansion owned by one of the leading Whitman County pioneer families
• Items spread out in rooms throughout the home
• Perkins family’s original homestead one-room home, restored and moved on-site
• Church organ
• Period clothing items
• Genuine Edison machine that plays music from its large circular metal tool
• Meeting space