Rearranging History

Two Rivers Heritage Museum reopens today

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Two Rivers Heritage Museum volunteer Bernice Pluchos (left) and Volunteer Coordinator Lois Cobb (right) admire one of the newest exhibits that features a doll collection of Presidential First Ladies wearing ball gowns of their era. The museum, located in downtown Washougal, reopened today after displays were cleaned and rearranged.

The new design elements of the Two Rivers Heritage Museum in Washougal are intended to be lighter and brighter, while showcasing some historic items rarely seen before.

The museum reopened this morning, after being closed for more than a month. Members of the Camas-Washougal Historical Society have been deep cleaning artifacts and rearranging some of the rooms.

Display cases containing Native American baskets have been relocated from in front of the entryway windows to closer to the entrance, and curtains have been removed from some of the windows.

“There is a lot more light here now,” said Volunteer Coordinator Lois Cobb.

She also noted there is more space for individuals using walkers and wheelchairs.

Colleen Daniels, a museum volunteer, has created a new display that pays tribute to several individuals from Camas and Washougal who have become famous for various reasons. They include astronaut Michael Barratt, NASCAR driver Greg Biffle, Earth Day founder Denis Hayes and singer Jimmy Rodgers.

The museum’s main hallway also contains an Expedition 19 crew photo, including Barratt, as well as an International Space Station certificate of flight for the Osprey Walking Group. The group of local walkers includes Barratt’s parents, Joe and Donna.

Volunteer Bernice Pluchos said people who grew up in this area enjoy looking at photos in the museum.

“They bring back memories of the area before there were sidewalks,” she said.

A display room that had contained an antique bedroom set now includes several dolls on display in honor of Black History month. There is also a collection of dolls resembling First Ladies, to commemorate Presidents Day.

Other dolls include Shirley Temple and Little Orphan Annie.

“We have dolls that people have never seen,” said Museum Director Phil Harris. “They used to be scattered everywhere.”

The “Campbell Kids” cups and transfer patterns for embroidery and painting occupy another corner of the room.

Some displays will change monthly, some quarterly.

“We were stagnant,” Harris said. “We wanted to change it. We survive by our visitors, new members and volunteers. We definitely need more volunteers.”

Items on display include pink and blue glassware and heart-shaped Valentine’s Day candy boxes.

There is also a collection of marigold color carnival glass.

“It was a shame to have all these pretty things in the basement,” Cobb said.

That includes a wooden chair featuring burgundy cloth, donated by Stan and Pat Nystrom.

While some things change, others remain the same — including four stained-glass windows created by Teri Neville, of Portland. There remains room for a fifth window with an image of a sternwheeler.

Subjects in the existing stained-glass windows include a Native American longhouse and canoe, Camas lilies, Mount Hood and logging and fishing scenes.

The windows are in the same room as multiple displays, including a player piano from the early 1900’s.

“We need to thin out the displays,” Harris said. “They are too busy.”

A 1910 pinball machine from the Camas Inn, also known as the Crown Zellerbach Hotel and Coffee Shop, remains operational in the museum. There is also a 1972 menu from the coffee shop, indicating that New York cut sirloin dinners were available for $2.40, and a slice of pie cost 20 cents. Riverview Bank is now located on the former site of the hotel, at 700 N.E. Fourth Ave., in downtown Camas.

The museum’s reference room contains newspaper articles, family history files, photographs, taped interviews and Clark County marriage and cemetery records.

There is also a work area set aside for volunteer Walt Eby to clean, assess and inventory assorted antiques.

“He is also our ‘mister fix-it,’ for anything that is broken,” Cobb said.

Volunteers can assist inside or outside the museum, with opportunities such as helping with plant sales, data entry and filing.

“We are always on the lookout for people with time on their hands and who like to fix things,” Pluchos said.

The carriage house contains old tools that were recently mounted on a wall, as well as a saddle, sled, sleigh and a Conastoga covered wagon for parades. There is also a “Camas City Limits” marker and a sign notating when the population of Washougal was 3,250.

A log wagon, put together by Dick Lindstrom and other volunteers, is located outside the carriage house.

The museum’s gift shop sells books about local history, note cards with reproduced images of historical photos, dominos, marbles and catapult games, rocks and thunder egg slices. There are also postcards with photos of Reflection Plaza in downtown Washougal and flowers in downtown Camas.

The Two Rivers Heritage Museum, One Durgan St., is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and $1 for students. Children under the age of 5 are admitted for free. Members of the Camas-Washougal Historical Society are admitted for free. For more information, call 835-8742.