Two Rivers Heritage Museum reopens with new, updated displays

Volunteers piece together handcrafted loom

Barbara Quinn, assisted by Dick Lindstrom, weaves a rug on a counter balance loom at the Two Rivers Heritage Museum in Washougal using selvage materials from Pendleton Woolen Mills. Along with the working loom are vintage carding supplies, spinning wheels, sewing machines, irons and other accessories.

After a two-month closure, the Two Rivers Heritage Museum reopens today with a new display highlighting the local area’s fabric weaving history.

The exhibit, “Early Fabric Making,” features a working counter balance loom set up to weave rugs with blanket selvage material donated from Pendleton Woolen Mills, which is located across the street. Every blanket woven at Pendleton is trimmed of selvage on two sides before finishing the edges. It is sturdy, colorful material that can be woven into soft rugs.

“The loom appears to be handcrafted as opposed to manufactured and is estimated to be from the last part of the 19th century,” said Camas-Washougal Historical Society member Marilyn Brown. “It is the size that could be found in a family home and was used to weave material for clothing, linens and home decor.”

In addition, the display includes vintage carding supplies, spinning wheels, sewing machines, irons and sewing accessories that were used in homes to clothe families and decorate the home.

The museum also now has updated displays — particular attention was paid to the vintage tools area — additional lighting to many of the showcases, and new signage throughout the building.

“We think we made some real progress on making it more of a destination location,” said Camas-Washougal Historical Society President Richard Johnson. “As you travel through the museum, you can focus on one area or another such as mining logging weaving.”

The loom was a gift from Yacolt’s North Clark County Museum in 2011. It came dismantled and was reconstructed by volunteers including Johnson, Dick Lindstrom and Walt Eby.

“When the project was first considered, several of us started looking around and researching,” Johnson said. “I quickly discovered looms were custom made projects and every one was different.”

That’s where the experience of volunteer consultants Barbara Quinn, spinner, weaver and member of the Vancouver Hand Spinners Guild and Rod Groth, retired from Pendleton Woolen Mill loom maintainence came in handy.

Over the course of several weeks, the volunteers met several times to work on the project. The loom was missing parts that had to be crafted by the volunteers, repaired or purchased.

“It was very interesting,” Johnson said of the endeavor. “It was a good learning process for all of us — and we made a rug.”

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