Columbia County has a geographically diverse landscape stretching from the mighty Snake River on our northern border to the beautiful Blue Mountains to the south. The historic City of Dayton, the county seat, is nestled in the fertile farmlands that made this area attractive to settlers in the 1800’s. Columbia County’s rich agricultural history, impressive historic buildings, diverse geography, and unparalleled community spirit come together to offer a wealth of area attractions both residents and visitors can enjoy. Please visit the Dayton Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center at 166 E. Main Street or see www.historicdayton.com for complete visitor information.
Because Columbia County was settled so early in the history of the west, evidence of the past is abundant and well cared for. Dayton boasts 117 Buildings on the National Historic Register with self-guided Walking Tours of 3 National Historic Districts. The Columbia County Courthouse, built in 1887 and the oldest courthouse in continuous use in the State of Washington, graces Dayton’s Main Street and is considered one of the most beautiful public buildings in the state.
Dayton’s museums are amazing and do a great job sharing the rich history of our area. Visit the Dayton Historic Depot, the oldest Depot in the state of Washington; The Boldman House Museum, showcasing the 90-year life of one family; The Palus Museum, sharing the cultural and geologic history of the people that lived here before us and the land they cherished; and the Smith Hollow Schoolhouse, a newly restored country schoolhouse brought to town for all to enjoy.
UNIQUE PUBLIC ART
Public art is a newer venture for our community, and just like the people who live here, the art we have secured is unique and enjoyable. Several murals were created as part of Downtown Dayton’s revitalization process in the 1990s and are visible on buildings in the downtown area. A display of over 60 steel silhouette sculptures was erected at the site Lewis and Clark camped just outside of Dayton on May 2, 1806. This display is called the Patit Creek Campsite, and is a very realistic depiction of what a Corps of Discovery campsite might have looked during their journey through our area in 1806. A beautiful bronze sculpture of Sacagawea was installed in downtown Dayton during the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial celebration. The Stationmaster and his Dog, a life-size depiction of the Dayton Depot’s former train station operator, stands on the boardwalk at the Depot. Visible from the Depot’s courtyard are the restored “ghost signs,” historic advertisements on the buildings that have been painstakingly restored in an authentic manner.
Columbia County’s diverse geography makes almost any kind of recreational activity available here. The Blue Mountains are made up of a privately owned land with recreational cabins, the Umatilla National Forest which offers many hiking trails, camping opportunities, and snowmobile trails, as well as both the Bluewood Ski Area and the Wenaha-Tucannon Wildnerness area for backcountry enthusiasts. Hunting is popular all over the county. The Snake River area is home to Lyons Ferry Marina, offering boat moorage, store and restaurant facilities, and camping right next to the river. Several other Corps of Engineers facilities are also located along the Snake River, and Little Goose Dam has a fish-viewing facility that is fun for the whole family. Fishing is very popular on the Snake, Touchet, and Tucannon Rivers and at the Tucannon, Lakes and RV Parks are dotted throughout the landscape. Dayton is home to a wonderful 9-hole municipal golf course – no tee times required! Please visit the Dayton Chamber of Commerce Recreation Page for more information.